Welcome to part two of the challenges ultra runners face during a 100 mile event and some suggestions on how to deal with them. Please post comments and other suggestions as we are always looking for new ideas.
Knowing your feet is the number one prevention tool. But just like every situation or problem that can occur during a 100, be prepared for problems because a change in conditions can change how your feet respond. Have a good knowledge about how to resolve blisters and hot spots. The book, Fixing Your Feet, is an excellent resource and covers just about every issue you can have with your feet. I have a whole kit dedicated to fixing feet. You can find the list of its contents on my gear page above.
I’ve had my hydration chafe my lower back, usually I don’t know about it until I shower afterward, but I’ve also had seams in sleeves chafe. The biggest contributing factor in chafing for me is humidity, rain, or having wet clothes for more reasons than just sweat. Carry or pack Glide in your drop bags. It’s light and you can even get picket size. You can also use Hydropel or Aquafore, even Vaseline will work. If you don’t have any of those, ask another runner or the aid station staff. Finally, change your clothes or put something between your skin and what is rubbing, tape works.
This can be a serious problem because it has the potential to lead to dehydration. I always carry an anti-diarrheal medication in my hydration pack and in my drop bags because this is common enough and serious enough to be prepared for it. If it does happen to you, you need to look for the potential causes what you ate before and during the race, anything new? High fiber? Anything past its expiration date or potentially spoiled? How much effort were you putting out? At high effort your metabolism is going to kick into high gear and things can pass through your system much more quickly than normal. Slowing down can be one of the things to try during the race. Also during the race, you can try eating something that may calm things down, bread or more complex carbohydrates. Cheese or protein will slow things down. Stay away from high sugar and fruits.
Missing your crew/pacer at a checkpoint
Prepare for it and don’t panic. There can be a whole host of reasons for your crew missing you: you’re faster than predicted, there’s traffic, there is some unforeseen event on the route. If there is any question that you may miss them, use drop bags at aid stations regardless of whether or not they will be there, because then you at least have gear to restock and change if needed. Talk about this in your pre-race meeting, let them know you won’t wait and if you’re not there to check with the aid station volunteers to see if you have checked in and out yet.
Missing a checkpoint or portion of the course
You’re playing in dangerous territory here. You will be disqualified even if it’s an honest mistake. It’s your responsibility to know the course and to check in and out when required. Lots of people get off course and they figure it out. You can’t expect special treatment. If you miss a check-in, go back as soon as you figure it out or drop from the race. Even if you have to go back miles, you should go back, if you can still finish within the time frame (usually 36 hours).
Have spare critical race ending supplies, extra shoes, an alternative hydration system, and extra lights. Make sure you test them before the run. You should be training with these supplies and know if there are issues. Having an extra hydration bladder on hand is just smart. Make sure your shoes and laces are in good repair.
Experience, planning, and a clam disposition are your friends whenever problems come up during a race. Make sure your crew has all the information and that they are not prone to freak outs and meltdowns. You have enough on your plate and shouldn’t have to deal with any crew problems.