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Discussion: Avoiding trench foot

in: Adventure Racing; Training & Technique

Sep 24, 2013 7:06 PM # 
I'm looking forward to the ARWC in Costa Rica particularly as the format may be like the journeys experienced in the old Eco Challenges. My main concern is how to look after the team members' feet in very hot, humid and muddy conditions for up to 9 days. Any tips or links?
Sep 24, 2013 8:35 PM # 
Toughen the feet before the race by walking bare foot. During the race, use SportSlick lube and put on fresh socks when possible.
Sep 24, 2013 9:21 PM # 
If you can't put on fresh socks, if you're wearing wool socks (for example), take them off, clean/dry your feet and wring out the socks. Practice taping (KT tape etc.) usual suspect hot spots in advance. I would also go into the race pre-taped. Long paddles: barefoot. I would also bring extra pairs of dry socks and dry bags that you can stash in transition boxes, in your pack, etc. Massive ROI for small investment in negligible extra weight.
Sep 24, 2013 9:23 PM # 
Cali Cowboy:
I ask all my feet related questions to John Vonhof... He is the authority on all things feet...

He is very approachable on Facebook too.
Sep 24, 2013 9:31 PM # 
x2. Anyone spending more than a few hours on their feet running or hiking should have a copy of John's book. Mandatory reading! That man is the Mother Teresa of trench foot.

Kyle knows a lot about swamp ASS, or "columbian trench ass" if you will. Another topic worthy of discussion.
Sep 24, 2013 9:33 PM # 
Gary, do you by chance happen to know Peter James? I raced with him many years ago. AR Legend, for sure. He's a tremendous resource if you happen to have him in your social or training circles.
Sep 25, 2013 5:59 PM # 
IIRC, some of the teams that experienced success in Eco Fiji also used an anti-fungal cream on their feet during the race. Not sure if Costa Rica has the same concerns, but there was a fungus present in Fiji that essentially caused open sores that quickly grew to become a major problem for a lot of teams.

Can't remember the details on what the cream was, or the particular fungus -- but this might be something worth looking into. Eco Fiji had a pretty high rate of attrition, and I think this was one of the major culprits.
Sep 25, 2013 9:37 PM # 
Trekking/caving through deep mud and bat guano with bloody feet lead to some serious problems, from what racers told me after EC Fiji and Borneo.
Sep 26, 2013 11:10 AM # 
Silicone foot lube, according to Ian Adamson. Gurney Gear makes one with anti-fungal.
Sep 26, 2013 12:54 PM # 
'Bent, do you have a link for the Gurney Gear foot lube? I couldn't seem to find it, but I am looking for a substitute for Hydropel. I bought several tubes when I found out that it was discontinued, but I'm starting to run out.
Sep 26, 2013 1:16 PM # 
There's also a product called Sportslick that is a silicone based lube that contains an antifungal. I've never tried it - so I can't necessarily recommend it.
Sep 26, 2013 1:41 PM # 
Ian Adamson did a talk specifically on AR foot issues and recommended it.
Mind you, that was back when he was AR world champion, so quite a while ago.
Sep 26, 2013 8:26 PM # 

Thanks guys. I've bought John Vonhof's book and it's fantastic.
Sep 27, 2013 2:36 AM # 
Cool! I was on the verge of getting some high viscosity dimethicone and formulating my own.
Sep 28, 2013 6:50 PM # 
gurney goo is great!
Oct 2, 2013 12:54 AM # 
Newb type question on a related topic...How does one "toughen feet" without developing calluses?
Oct 5, 2013 1:55 AM # 
Is that even possible?
Oct 5, 2013 2:43 AM # 
Toughening up feet will mean to thicken the soles of the feet, and increase their resistance to injury. But calluses are focal, thickened, less supple areas that are surrounded by more supple, thinner tissue. Those focal areas create stress in nearby, "softer" tissue, leading to tissue damage when challenged. Toughened feet good, calluses bad.
Oct 5, 2013 9:57 PM # 
Thanks for the clarification afsheen.
Oct 6, 2013 3:56 AM # 
You're welcome. I'm not the fastest or most experienced racer here, but I've had good feet, including multi-day. Just remember to train in shoes and conditions you expect to see in a race. Off-trail races require off-trail training.
Oct 16, 2013 6:32 PM # 
I've been using SportShield silcon-based roll-on for racing in Florida over the last two years. Seems like I'm always paddling in or walking through swamps down here, and bodyglide tends to wash off. I was at the Nationals race when Ian gave his talk and recommended a silicon based lube. Great results with this in my crotch, where I used to get torn up from bike short seams. Never tried it on my feet, however. I don't think the brand name matters much, I would go with silicon over any other, and then get the anti-fungal/bacteria if you need that too and don't mind some extra cost for the additives.
Dec 30, 2013 8:11 PM # 
I've returned from Costa Rica ARWC and can confirm that our team's feet were very good. We used Gurney Goo on our feet liberally and changed our socks often including the re-application of Gurney Goo. We also stopped to empty our socks and shoes of grit after nearly every stream/river crossing. It cost us time but at least we finished the race and with our feet in good condition. The medics at the mandatory stops were surprised how good our feet were.

Towards the end of the race I taped my big toe, the ball of my foot and the heel as they were beginning to get tender.

We also removed our shoes and socks on the kayak stages to let them breathe.

Thanks for all your tips guys.

This discussion thread is closed.