Sunday, 5 January 2020

Sleeping Stratergys and foot issues updated 2018

Sleep Strategy

         One thing that makes THE  FULL SPINE RACE unique is the absence of mandatory sleep stops.
         Other races, such as the DRAGONS BACK and the CAPE WRATH ULTRA have the distance but also have time out for sleeping.
        On Shorter 100mile races you can get away without sleeping for perhaps 2 nights without it decimating your Mental and Physical performance.
        Previous Challenger finishers will have a good idea of trail conditions  but  not have any real  experience of  Chronic Sleep Deprivation mixed up with body clock disruption.
         Most runner,s entering The Spine will  have completed a 100 mile race .
         Elite 100mile runners  tend to have less experience of the effects of sleep issues as they run for less time to finish their races . (elite runners in this case are less experienced than tail enders)
         Few runners will ever had tried sleeping for just 2 or 3 hrs then pushing infer another 20 hrs forward progress then repeating for several days.
         Until you are well into the  Full Spine Race you will not know how your body will react to lack of sleep.
         Even Challenger runners will discover the conditions and levels of concentration the course demands will mentally drain them more than a summer ultra of the same time duration.(you may think that 2 hrs sleep total will get you to Haws but the reality may be different)

           Getting Enough Sleep To Carry On Efficiently.

               Runners talk of dehydration reducing performance by 20%.
              Sleep deprivation can easily reduce performance  by 50% (and thats without nav errors).
              Good Sleeping Location  on the course are  predictable but often far apart.
              You need to plan ahead .
              Avoid tackling a long leg of the course if you know you will probably suffer sleep stress before you arrive.
              Probably the only time when  it is worth pushing through extreme sleep issues is when you are near a CP or known place where you can sleep.
              Achieving enough sleep is a big issue for all the racers including the race leaders.
                 (there is some interesting footage from  The Montanes Spine race film showing Pavel near the finish line moving but also stumbling as if he was slightly drunk. His coordination was damaged by his lack of sleep.

            It is not just competition performance you need to worry about .
            If you are on the trail and are so sleepy that you could just drop off you will not have the coordination and balance to move efficiently. In this state you may not be generating enough heat to maintain your body temperature. To sum up :you will be crawling along and probably getting cold . You may also not be heading in the right direction!  So planning to push on until you just can,t stay awake is counter productive and dangerous.
          Using stimulants such as Pro plus will ruin your sleep quality when you eventually arrive.
          If your head is so sleepy that your decision making ability goes down the pan then:
                                you ARE NOT RUNNING YOUR OWN RACE.

          CP's Pubs and Cafe's will give you enough of a physical break to rejuvenate leg power.
 In reality during a 4 hr sleep stop at a CP it is not uncommon to  only get 2 hrs sleep (the other two hrs is occupied with repacking ,feeding, planning,showering  and most of all lying in your bag trying to fall asleep.)

                          SPINE SLEEP REALITY.

           You may be calculating where and for how long you will sleep as part of your Race Plan 
            You have your maps and speed calculations so where is the problem?
      The reality is that sleeping during the Race  is just not as easy as you expect
                                         2 STAYING ASLEEP.

      Of the two surprisingly the first is the biggest issue And even more surprisingly trying to fall asleep can get harder towards the end of the race when you are most tired.
                Trying To Fall Asleep.
             YOUR HEAD IS STILL RACING WHEN TRYING TO FALL ASLEEP! This can be worst at the first sleep stop and CP5 when you revert to race mode (To get a better finishing position or fighting the cut off)

             Ideally to fall asleep you need to be relaxed.
             Failing this you need to be so sleepy that you drop off fast.
             The Race is a fight for your body.
             To put up that fight we flood our body with the two Fight or Flight Hormones
               High levels of these two hormones will inhibit falling asleep.
               Caffeine products will make things worse.
              You will need to wind down your brain in order to sleep.
               Some find a hot shower helps.
               Avoid Coffee (Chamomile  tea from your drop bag may help.
               Do all your repacking for re-start before sleeping otherwise you may fret about missing something.
               Choose a quiet dorm with a bottom bunk away from any banging door.
               Share a dorm with other runners wanting the same wake up time if possible


              Planning Your Own Sleep Cycle Race.

               Start by trying to get a good nights sleep before the race.
               It may be worth booking a quiet room in a B&B rather than sharing a noisy YHA Dorm. 
               For my part I believe one of the keys is to remain as flexible as possible within the constraints of available places to sleep.
               WHERE WILL YOU SLEEP
                If you can ,then sleep only at the CP,s  This is what the front runners do.
                For the vast majority of Spine and Challenger runners the leg between CP1 and Haws is just to far to cover without sleeping.
                Carrying a tent will give you far more flexibility as to where and when you sleep.
                Carrying only a Bivvy bag gives you flexibility but at the expense of sleep quality.

                I would advise all mid to tail end runners to not make a pre race decision as to where and when you will sleep. Leave your options open and make a new projected plan at each CP selecting appropriate  gear  from your Drop Bag. 

                CP1 will always be the first decision point .

   Plus points for sleeping at CP1: -------  It will be night time ,this  helps.
                                                      -------  You can shower ,feed and warm up.
                                                      ---------You can pre plan and pack for the next leg
                                                      -------- You won,t have the stress of sleeping on trail before Malham
                                                      ---------A warm dry bed and no wet tent/bivvi  to carry afterwards .
                                                      ---------No wasted time erecting and taking down tent /bivvi
                                                      ---------It,s early in the race . You will catch others up.

   Neg points for sleeping at CP1------ You may not be sleepy yet
                                                   --------You will have the stress of seeing others push on.
                                                    --------It is always noisy.
                                                    --------A chance of reaching CP1.5 without stopping  gaining time .
                                                    --------A potential lower final position.
                                                    --------Race nerves from not having settled properly into the race yet.
                                                    --------CP 1 is almost always overcrowded and Chaotic .

If you entered The Spine In order only to Finish then sleeping at CP1 is your best  bet.

       I always plan to  sleep at CP1 but mainly because I will need to settle my dodgy digestive system.
         If you do sleep at CP1 then get back on the road rejoining the PW before dawn.

Never waste  the opportunity to run in daylight even if it means cutting  short sleep time.

              Managing your' Sleeping Cycle'.

        Your body is programmed to sleep at night in a 24hr cycle (Unless you are a shift worker)
        Try not to fight your natural sleep cycle. Sleep at night if possible.
        Trying to sleep during the day is like running up all the hills and walking the downs.
        Syncing your night  sleep times with arrival at CP's is desirable but not always possible

         Improving The Amount Of Sleep You Get At CP's

         The aim of the game is to use showering ,planning and re-packing time to lower your stress levels. 
         Having a sign by your bed letting others know when you wish to wake will lower your stress.
         An alarm and torch by your head will lower stress.
         In some CP's the staff may agree to give you a wake up call

         Reducing  the "will I wake up stress"
         1 Set alarm on watch 
         2 Ask if CP marshall cam wake you a specific time .
         3 Attach watch to buff and pull buff over head so watch is near your ears
         4 put sign by bed
         5 thread alarm set watch through buff and fix to bed head near pillow.

         If possible don,t get a bed by the dorm door.
         Never switch dorm lights on ,use a hooded torch.
        Get absolutely everything ready for the next leg before you get in bed.
        The when  you wake you will  gain no extra rest by faffing in the CP.
         WAKE---DRESS----EAT----PACK ON AND GO.

           Sleep Aids

            Forget drugs for a start! however if chamomile tea works for you then fine.
            You need a black buff to cover your eyes.
            Small foam ear plugs are a must.
            Your bag liner may reduce the horrible feel of some of the CP plastic mattresses.
             Top bunks are hard to get into with swollen feet.
             It is much easier getting dressed sitting on a bottom bunk.
             If you are in a group leaving at the same time then look out for a dorm together.
             Knowing that others in a different room may leave without you is stressful.
             A thick comfy sleeping mat will help in CP5 and village halls where there are no mattresses.
laminated sign to stop other runners waking you to ask if you are OK!

             Snoring!!!!   IT IS JUST NOT FUNNY! 

               One Snorer in a dorm of 8 beds can cause tempers to flare!
               The British attitude tends to be ignore the one Snoring. 
                Sod That----WAKE THE BASTARD UP!
               If you are woken up by a snorer then they are stealing your sleep.This will really big you and raise your own stress levels.
              Runners who never normally snore will suddenly start during the Race Sleep Stops.
              Try never to sleep on your back.
              Encourage other runners not to sleep on their back by using Kinesio Tape to bind a gas cylinder to their spine!? They may put up a fight . If so then shoot them!

                    'All very hypocritical of me cos i have been known to snore loudly.

                    Over warm CP,s and halls  

                     Not every CP provides Duvets. Having a lower rated bag and a good quality bag liner gives you better Sleep Quality.You can slow cook in an over warm bag.
                      CP5 has a  hard floor so a blow up mat works much better than that micro thin foam mat you plan to use to save weight and pass kit check!
                     The time lost from bad sleep will be far longer than any time gained from weight saving.
                     Sleep next to a wall and away from paths to the loos.

                 Kit Drying Issues.

       Drying facilities differ between each CP. ( At CP1---  they are non existent)
       Hanging out wet kit is almost  a competitive  sport. There is never enough room to hang your gear.
       Each new runner entering the drying room ends out shifting up other runners gear.

       The result is that some gear  can end up on the floor.
       You can guarantee that your gear won,t be where you left it.
       Identifying your socks from a pile on the floor is only possible if you mark everything.
       This includes Shoes. Tie your shoes together at every CP as they will get mixed up .
       Shoes can be easy to mix up especially if coated in mud.  (Muddy Speedcross all look the same)
       It is not unknown for runners to take the wrong shoes on leaving the CP.




Removing shoe liners will allow shoes to dry faster. Take a bunch of cloths pegs threaded on a long string and use them to stop liners disappearing from Drying room hooks.

Sleeping Outside CP's 

  This requires a different approach. No one is there to feed ,warm or look after you . Eating will take longer as you have to cook yourself.
  Except in emergencies the minimum requirement for an outside break with good quality sleep is 
              1 some sort of roof to keep rain or snow off your gear.
              2 idealy a raised dry ish  floor so you don't get the inside of your bag wet 
              3 shelter from wind 
              4 Some method of stopping other runners waking you up !

    A Tent covers 1,2and 3 so you can stop almost anywhere .
    A Bivvi bag without some sort of  extra cover can be a nightmare (Especially if you need hot food and drinks) 

         Managing a sleep stop outside a CP is slow and requires a restart with out Drop Bag Re-Supply.

Details Of CP,s And Possible Sleeping Bolt Holes.

  Note: I list several Public Toilets. Remember they are for the public not just you!
  Spend some time studying the lead in paths to all CP,s and their exact locations. USE Google Street View for CP2 CP3 CP5 and Challenger finish Virtual recce.

  Don,t expect much from the: "you can,t miss them"signs to the CP,s that will be shown you at the race brief. By definition you will be at your most knackered and have relaxed your nav concentration.
 Almost all Spine Signs so far Don't have night reflective lettering.

If you need to sleep before reaching CP1 you are probably in trouble  and won,t make the Cut off,s.
The rough average time to get to CP1 is about 15Hrs.

      CP1 Details.

    If you do recce this section of the course go all the way to the CP in daylight so you know the rout in!
Cp1 is located about 1Km from the PW and if you miss the non glow in the dark signs It,s easy to get lost. Every year 10% or more  of runners get lost (some for up to one hour!).

        Leaving the PW you  hit the road and  head down hill until you have houses on both sides of the road . Keep to the left hand pavement where the track down to theCP branches off between the houses (The Spine Signs may be obscured by parked cars!) The track descends then turns left and deteriorates into a steep  boulder strewn gully. It goes on for ages and you will glimpse the CP lights long before you arrive  . The track overshoots above the CP then cuts back down and right ending in icy steps.
    AS you arrive at the CP someone will ask for your race number.
    They need the number to locate which drop bag is yours
 You are handed drop bags outside the CP and you have to lug them down more  icy steps to the boot room. 
        There is a tap on the outside wall of the boot room for washing off shoes and gaiters. The boot room is cold!
 Through boot room is the check in point in corridor. Dorms on one side so keep the noise down!!!
  At the end of the corridor are two food eating rooms with a kitchen in the middle. 
  Showers are off to the left with more dorms on the upper floor and a room for the medics.
  There is very little room so you have to step over runners sorting kit in the corridor.
   You can take packs into the food areas but again not much room.
  No drying room at CP1 but a few radiators festooned with wet gear.
   No phone signal and a Snail Pace Wi Fi signal reserved of CP Staff( so don,t ask to use it)
   Dorm beds have Duvets and plastic mattress covers. Creep in ready to get into bunk beds with shaded torch . Try not to let the dorm  doors bang and wake others up!

All In All CP1 is not a relaxing place. Ear Plugs are essential!
Once back on trail retrace steps back up to the road to rejoin PW.
I would advise anyone sleeping at CP1 to try to exit the CP before Dawn to make the best of daylight hours.

  Top Withins Bothy.GR:---SD961364

10 km past CP1 and bang on the trail.
  This is a tiny Bothy which is usually unlocked.
  The door is notoriously stiff. (Bashing it open to see if there is space will wake any sleepers!)
  Among the Wuthering Heights ruined buildings. (Compulsory to Sing Kate Bush Song!)
  Possible to at least  get  out of the wind and rest among the sheep shit..
  Bench outside to sit on if it,s warm and sunny.
  This features in many race Blogs and so is a popular target for runners skipping sleeping at CP1.
                 IT ONLY SLEEPS 2  on the bench so that could be  your plan 'a ' buggered!
 If you are lucky enough to bag the space then put a large sign on the door with your wake up time (If you don't do this you will be woken up by runners bashing the door open and shining a torch in your face every 5 mins)

  Pondon Reservoir. (2.5 k from Top Withins.)

   Just before the reservoir there is a canoe compound on your left  with containers which may give shelter for the desperate . (You will probably be trespassing!)

    Airton Pump House 

     About 400m past the bridge . Small Smelly and full of dog shit 
     Only for the really desperate!

    Malham Public Toilets 

    Two Sets :one next to the pub after you cross the bridge.
                     Second set 200m south down the road at National park Centre.
                     Covered veranda area behind the centre could be a good place in snow.
     they have excellent reviews on trip adviser***** from  Past German and Swiss Spine Runners. ( The ladies loos  evidently smell better than the Gent,s and have a heater.)
     Note: the Germans will always get there first!

        Don't discount Sleeping in Malham . The village is at a much lower altitude than CP 1.5  and so will be warmer and possibly Quieter. (sleep in Malham and re-fuel at Cp1.5

     CP 1.5  Malham field centre.

       By the time you arrive you will be knackered from the climb out of Malham over the  Malham Cove Maze  and the endless long  trudge over soggy ground and  a stream  to a CP  invisible till the last moment! ( it is really bleak out there in the dark)

     CP1.5 is a classroom with a check in point ,Kettle, Toilets ,Tables and chairs.
                 You are not allowed to sleep in the Classroom.
                 New Rule max time inside at CP1.5 is 30 mins . This is only just enough time for a hot drink ,rehydrated meal and a dash out into the cold to try and sleep!
                 In the past runners have snoozed in chairs in CP1.5 (this is no longer allowed)
                  The official Bivvi area is close by outside but  under the canopy of a veranda
                   Flat ground for tents near by Veranda.
                   This CP is famous for the fire alarm going off when you are trying to sleep!

   The Bird Hut .

          400m past CP1.5 on LHS. 
          Small dry hut with room for 8 but only if everyone occupies a small space.
          Don't spread your kit out !
           It is a risk to go for this one as it may be full or even locked.
           If you do go for it then do so in absolute silence. It is very easy to disturb other runners so feed  and drink at CP1.5 before you arrive . Blow up sleeping mats outside if you can! 

            If the hut is full you could Bivvi in the woods but you are probably better off  plodding back to  the CP close to the toilets and kettle. ( SHIT 800 meters lost!)

       Sheep Shit Barn 

This barn is about 1 Km along the trail after the junction off the Field Centre road.

 The floor of the barn was about 10 cm deep in  wet sheep shit in September .

 There is just a chance if we get weeks of hard frost that the shit will freeze and this barn would be a good stopping point

       The Cafe At Horton.

         No sleeping but this place was open all night serving food for runners in 2016.
          This is a private Cafe for walkers and other folk not just Spine Runners.
          They also sell second hand walking poles and new Sealskin Socks.

          Public Toilets are just past the Cafe on your left. Not much room but may be possible to sleep in if you are desperate!

           Challenger finish 

           A different finish from previous years
            Hardraw   about 2Km past Haws.
             Beds and Showers (improvement over previous years)

             CP2 Spine Race CP

            YHA on road west out on edge of  town LHS of road
             Boots off in entrance.
             Drop bags ready in next room.
             Kitchen on left and eating room straight on.
             Hot Showers
             Several dorms and small rooms.
              Duvets supplied.
              Still a fairly hectic CP as not that many DNF,s by  this point.
              Need to retrace steps back into Haws to rejoin PW
              Probably drying room.

                Tan Hill Pub.
                Has been known to leave the bar room unlocked overnight .
                If so you can kip on the floor. (Check if this might be possible before exit CP2)
                Some years the Foyer has been left open at night for Marshalls to huddle in .
                You could make a brew in the foyer but no room to sleep.
              Rescue Hut 2kmpast A66 (GR NY 948148)
              Actually on the PW where it crosses a landrover track.
               Quite a large and dark hut with filthy concrete floor.
                Would probably sleep about 10
                 Not far till CP3 so may be worth pushing on ?

              CP 3 Middleton

             Located about IKm from town centre(west side of town).

              Check location on  Recce and maps. + Google Street View 
               You will have trouble following the  Spine Signs all the way to the CP.(It is a long way!)
               Concrete floored Boot room at entrance is freezing.
               Outside tap on building at far end from boot room door.
                Dorm single glazed window right next to the entrance so keep the noise down when you enter!
                Managed to organise wheelbarrow of water to wash boots near door  in 2017
               Mens Showers on RHS of boot room.
               Corridor on LHS  of boot room with Dorms on either side.
               Keep the noise down in the boot room as dorms just the other side of the door!
               Corridor leads to large games room with drop bags (usually cold!)
               Through games room to LHS door to food/check in room.And Kitchens.
               No drying room but plenty of radiators.
               Note; to get to showers you have to go back through freezing  boot room.
               By now more DNF,s so CP is a bit quieter.

               Once past CP3 it is a long haul to Dufton  with little shelter once you pass Cauldron Snout.
               There is rumoured to be a barn 1km past the Cauldron Snout . I have never found it and Suspect it is a private farm barn.

                 Dufton Village Hall. 

   Used in 2016 and  2017 (New Yule max stop 30 mins)

    Village Hall is at far side of village green. The Green is itself a slight detour off the PW but you need to prepare yourself for  Cross Fell ahead and it,s worth getting yourself sorted before climbing out of the village onto higher  exposed ground.
   Hall , toilets ,kitchen with kettle . 
   No food available in Hall  so use your own.

    Post Office Cafe in dutton plans to be open all night for Spine Runners .

       Dufton Public Toilets 

        On the LHS as you enter the village  (another German Sleeping Spot)
        Bus shelter opposite the toilets . Roof and benches (spent a happy sleep there )

                  Gregs Hut.

       Come off Cross Fell by the main PW route 
       On no account take a shortcut to Gregs Hut as the area is littered with massive Sink Holes!
       Small cosy two room bothy bang on the trail.
       This feels more like a cave than a hut but there is a coal fired stove and usually a plate of noodles.
       You need to check in anyway.
       Often occupied by hard core medics.
       Rutted track out of the hut down to Gargill goes on for miles!

        ALSTON YHA

        The YHA is on your right as you hit the outskirts of town 
         From what I can remember from my visit in 2013
          Showers Toilets 
          Limited Space in mess area can get crowded . 
          Can't remember the sleeping facilities (Zombi Phase)
           No proper drying room 

         Hadrians Wall Toilets 
     Some say there are heaters in the toilets.
     Place to fill up with water because once past the wall most of the streams are boggy.

      Horneysted Spine Pit Stop. GR:NY 815773    

         Just past the bridge up the hill and in a farm out building.
          Old sofas , Arm Chairs , kettle, crisps,biscuits and cuppa soup.
          Fridge with Milk and an honesty Box Give Generously!
          Real life saver of a place if you are wet.
          Not really a place to sleep as you are not far from CP5.

      CP5 Bellingham  In A Camp Site .

          Located  on the PW LHS of road just past the Forestry offices.
          Long walk up the drive to the CP front door in buildings on RHS of parking area.
          CP Split in two WHICH IS A BUGGER!
          Check in ,Toilets , big open hall on RHS.
          I don,t remember any shower in sleeping block but shower in buildings other side of wet car park.
          Kitchens Mess Room ,Drying Room 30mtrs away across rainy car park!
          The Drying room is on the RHS of the block and can only be reached by going outside.
          Sleeping area with Medics is all in one big noisy hall. 
          By this time the levels of snoring by sleeping runners will be deafening!

 Note : we may have use of a better building in 2018 (I will update if I can find out)

            CP5.5 The Forrest Lodge B&B

             About 500m away from the PW just off the main road.(Turn left at the main  road)
             Watch out for Icy pavements !
              Small B&B with Sausage and mash and soup. Toilet just outside.
              Chairs and tables in heated conservatory with comfy Sofas.
              No real chance of sleeping due to bright lights and so many runners in small space.
              Medic and MRT base camp.
              Compulsory foot check by Medics in 2016.
              Once out of CP retrace steps back down main road before climbing up through thick woods.
              YOU ARE NOW  NEARLY COMMITTED to reach the line .
              Ahead there is no  easy  way to bail out! 

        Lamb Hill Mountain Refuge Hut

        Actually just before Lamb Hill.
         Tiny wooden hut with benches. No real room to lie down.
         Usually occupied by Hard Core  Race Marshal.
         No facilities excerpt shelter from the elements.
         Take care leaving the Hut as it is easy  to take the wrong track heading east!

           2nd Mountain Refuge Hut.

            About 16k past the first and on the PW.
             Small and full of Medics!
             Probably no room to sleep but you are less than 10 from the finish.
             Try not to stand on the bodies!

            The Finish Line .

          The wall of the pub across the green at Kirk Yetholm.
           Medals handed out on touching the wall.
          If the Pub is open you are entitled to a free 1/2 pint!
          The pub is usually buzzing with drinkers. Most are not involved with the SPINE .
          It is all a bit weird now you have finished . Perhaps it would be better if all the racers were in one part of the pub rather than spread about.

            WE shall try to get your drop bags to the pub and ferry half dead runner back to :

            The Finish line Village Hall.

             About 800m from the pub but you will be in no state to walk.
              More Drop bags in hall.
             Village hall has toilets ,wooden floor but NO SHOWER!
              Floor covered on broken Bodies some smiling and some not. ALL STINK!
              Small table with kettle and snacks but no real food.
      To be honest the whole finish can be a bit of a let down . Unfortunately this is because there is no suitable YHA type accommodation  that everyone can stay in.
               Best advice book a hotel room or be nice to someone who has ,so you can at least shower.
               Don,t expect to be able to look after yourself or make any  important decisions.
              If you fall asleep get your feet up high . Now is the time they will really swell without tight running shoes holding them in check.



                  Sleep Strategy

                 Sleeping Out On The Trail.

             Not a choice for front runners unless we get early heavy snow in which case expect some elite DNF,s
             The choice debated every year is Tent V Bivvi bag.
              Slow Spine Vets such as myself and Dave Lee will cover both options by having the choice of each in out drop bags. We make the decision of what  to carry when leaving each CP.
               Neither of us are impressed by the much overrated  idea of packing minimum weight.
                As Spine Pace is Below 20min miles . A Kg extra weight makes little difference .
               What will make a big difference is a good sleep and a place to cook your own hot food.
                The cooking advantage could mean the opportunity to miss out a whole pub stop later that day.
                I carry an Alpkit  Hunka Gortex  Bivvi  bag which I have used on the Spine
                On some legs I will carry my Terra Nova Laser Tent.
              . I would never consider only carrying only  SOL type Exposure Bag . 

               I do and always will carry the SOL bag in addition to my tent and Gortex Bag .

               To sleep out efficiently on the trail you need to have practiced with Tent or Bivvi
                You must know how to put your tent up fast ,in the rain and in the dark.
                The same goes for the BIVVI BAG. you have to work out how to get into it fast with boots off and without soaking your sleeping bag. As for cooking this will only be possible at  CP1.5. You probably won,t be able to cook and stay warm in a Bivvi bag on the trail.

               If you get into a Bivvi Bag cold you will stay cold.
               Eating high sugar  foods such as Chocolate and  hot drinks will help.

               Don,t go for a super light  sleeping mat. The one I use is a thermalight neoair which is 50mm thick.
              Runners tend to obsess over the rating and weight of their sleeping bag and not consider how important a good sleeping mat is. 
              Some runners will opt for a Klymit type skeleton mat . These mats are ok for summer but no use at all in snow. They are light weight but you won,t be able to sleep well on wet grass or snow.
              In conclusion : a super  light weight mat will remove your option of sleeping out on the trail no matter how good your sleeping bag is.

           Official Race Delays And Free Sleep Time.

         Almost every year severe weather can cause  the race directors to pause all or part of the race.


     You need to understand how this works !

      AN EXAMPLE FROM  THE 2014 SPINE.   Where I came out ahead!

        I arrived at Dufton at 2 am to learn that conditions on Cross Fell were dangerous. 
        The Race directors halted our race until 7am when we could tackle Cross Fell in daylight.
        My race clock was  halted in effect for 5 hrs (5hrs  would be deducted from my final finish line time.)
         I was also given 5 hrs free sleep!

          The racers who departed Dufton just before  me (before the race was paused) not only faced a  slow energy sapping crawl over Cross fell without sleep but they would need a final race finish time at least 5 hrs faster than me in order to be placed above me.

          If your race is paused then use that free time to sleep.

        AN EXAMPLE FROM 2015 where I lost out.

         I checked out of CP1.5 at midnight and slept in the Bird Hut.
         Unknown to me high winds on Fountains fell caused had caused the race to be halted.
         Everyone at CP1.5 had their race clocks stopped  by the resident Race Marshal.
         My race clock was still ticking. I was not credited any time.

         By the time I arrived at CP2 I had slept for the same amount of time as runners who stopped at CP1.5   The only difference was  that the other runners had been credited stoppage  time.

          If there are any rumours   that  the race will be halted then it pays to be in a CP or under the supervision of a Race Marshall so you will be credited lost time .

          Credited Time On The Final Leg.(race strategy)

           If you know you have credited time then you could find yourself racing runners ahead of you.
           This was my situation in 2014. 
           I was racing runners finishing 5 hrs ahead of me .
           I phoned a friend who was monitoring my progress . He made the calculations giving me target finish time in order to beat several runners who had already finished.  I finished the race running to the line racing virtual runners! My friend gave me progress reports every 10 mins.



                                             Foot Issues

No matter how fit or well prepared you are for the Spine , getting foot problems can ruin your race.

  There Are 4 Main Issues :                                                                                                               

                                                   Trench Foot.


          Blisters are caused by the surface of your skin being pulled back and forth causing the surface to sheer from the underlying tissues.
          The pulling back and forth is caused by a high friction  external surface rubbing the skin .
          The rapid movement caused by running on day one has the severest  blister forming effect.
          You can reduce the rubbing by reducing movement or reducing the friction.
          Reducing the movement is mostly a matter of having a good fitting Shoe.
         To  reduce friction:  Lubricate the skin surface.
                                         Reduce surface skin friction.
                                         Transfer the sheer forces between sock layers.

         Some Spine Runners use Vaseline or foot balm to make the skin slippery.
         Removing hard skin or callouses between toes will reduce the rubbing.
         Always wearing two pairs of Socks helps.
         Injini toe socks will reduce the chances of forming blisters between toes.
         A wet foot will generate more Friction
          If you feel a hot spot of a blister forming you need to take action.
         What you are trying to achieve is to reduce skin surface movement at the hot spot.

Blister Treatment. 

This is the Treatment advised by Dr Anna Kroplniki (Chief Medic Spine 2013/2014)

           Compeeds are fine for shorter Ultras but on a multi day race they will bond to the skin and lead to a build up of dirt around their edges . New blisters and possible infection can form in a ring around them. For the medics this is a problem as the compeed needs to be removed and this can tear the underlying skin opening it up for infection.

           To treat blisters you need to make a mini soft pad over them with mole skin tissue ( It is a bit like fine fleece material). The mole skin is held in place with Kinesio Tape which may need cutting into a web shape to hold the patch steady.
             The whole operation works better on dry skin. Medics 'if available ' will clean the blister area (and possibly drain them ) when you arrive at the CP.  Applying the mole Skin and Tape  is done after your feet  have had time to dry out. possibly when sleeping.
              Applying medicated talk will speed up the drying.
              Talk needs to be medicated as your immune system is hammered by the race making you susceptible  to inflections such as ATHLETES FOOT!.

             Spine Medics are real experts in blisters but are not always available if they are called to an urgent Medical situation. 
              A Que to have your blisters fixed can take some time . A bad case of multiple blisters can take over one hour to dress!

            Trench Foot , Non Freezing Cold Injury , Immersion Foot

             All names for the same condition.
             Caused by cool prolonged damp conditions.
             Causes the feet to swell, reduced surface blood flow,discolouration ,wrinkling.
             Trench foot also makes your feet more susceptible to infection.
             The wrinkles in the skin can cause deep splits in places.
             Increased chance of blisters.

                        Avoiding Trench Foot.

            Do everything you can to keep your feet dry.
            If we have saturated wet ground conditions then either waterproof socks or tall Gortex Boots are a must.
             Of the two , Gortex boots probably breath better so if the boot is not swamped they will keep your feet less moist.
              If race conditions are dry then you will be better off not wearing waterproof socks.
              You can keep your feet drier in sub zero conditions by wearing two pairs of insulated socks. Your feet will stay warmer and the heat from your feet will not be transmitted to the Shoe surface  causing melting and a wet shoe. 2013 Spine Conditions.
              I plan on my waterproof socks failing so have 4 pairs available.
              Don,t know any full proof waterproof sock . It is all a bit luck of the draw.

               It may be worth while at times running with conventional socks and carrying waterproof socks in your run pack.
             Always carry several spare socks. You can swap to dry socks between CP,s keeping your feet moisture levels down 
              Avoid sleeping with socks on so your feet can dry out faster.(Talk before sleeping)
              Wearing well ventilated shoes such as Crocks without socks at CP's will help.

         I coat my feet with Burts Bees Hand Balm every day for about a week before the Spine . This reduces the skin surface friction, softens rough skin  and makes the surface a little more water resistant. I also use it during the Race on parts where adhesion of Kinesio tape is not an issue.

              A hot shower  or foot bowl will bring blood back to the foot skin surface , cleaning and speeding up the drying process.

                 Foot Swelling

        Unless you have done the Spine Before you will have NO IDEA!
        You should expect your feet to swell a minimum of one shoe(UK) size during the race.(mark the size of your shoes on the outside with a marker pen.
        You will spend very little time lying out flat sleeping giving your feet time to recover.
        Take every opportunity to elevate your feet. Whenever you stop if possible lay on the floor and put your feet on a chair.
          At CP dorms put a pillow under your feet.
          If you have no trench foot issues it may be worth wearing compression socks in bed.
          Wearing socks in bed will inhibit  drying.
          Some of the front runners will avoid removal of shoes to keep swelling down.

         Carry Larger Shoes In Your Drop Bag (including get home after race shoes)
         If you completely fail to fit into your shoes then beg to borrow larger shoes from other runners.
          Even after the race has finished swelling can continue so keep your feet up.


            The Medics will let you race with Swollen, Blistered ,Trench Foot. 
            You may be  Medically DNF't  if you get a bad foot infection. 
            This is a good reason for showering and foot washing at every opportunity.
             The Medics may drain a Blister with a sterile needle but they won,t take the surface off your blisters .
             The remaining skin over your blisters is a barrier against infection.
             Dry feet are less prone to infection.
              Frequent sock changes are crucial to reducing infection.








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