In this video, I’ll be discussing the impact of blisters in ultramarathon events and how to prepare. We’ll cover things like the gear you’ll need, and what preventive or treatment measures you can take to keep you on your feet in relative comfort til you cross the finish line.

Warning 1: It’s a lengthy video so please see the description for topic shortcuts. https://youtu.be/_ANaeFhm27E

Warning 2: Be prepared to see some gory blister photos. While it can come as a shock, it’s important to see examples of certain blisters so you can compare them to your blister history and to figure out what you’re dealing with.

👣 Take a look at the Southern Lakes Ultra event 👣

 

 

BLISTERS IN ULTRAMARATHON STATISTICS

First, let’s be under no illusion. Foot blisters are a big deal in ultramarathon. Here are some stats to back that up. Five pieces of research specific to ultramarathon, looking specifically at blister incidence and their impact.

1. 2009 Western States Endurance Run and the Vermont 100 Endurance Races USA [both 161km]

  • Blisters severe enough to affect race performance:
    • 40.1% of finishers
    • 17.3% of non-finishers
  • Blisters stated at the main reason given for dropping out 5.8%
  • Hoffman & Fogard (2011)

2. RacingThePlanet 250km 6-Stage Ultramarathons 2005/06

Gobi Desert, China (2005 & 2006) / Sahara Desert, Egypt (2005) / Atacama Desert, Chile (2006)

Blister incidence:

  • 16.2% major blisters
  • 57.8% minor blisters
  • TOTAL: 74% of runners had blisters
  • Krabak et al (2011)

3. RacingThePlanet 250km 6-Stage Ultramarathons (2010/11)

Gobi Desert, China (2010) / Kimberley, Australia (2010) / Sahara Desert, Egypt (2010, 2011) / Atacama Desert, Chile (2011) / Pokhara, Nepal (2011)

Blister incidence (group of 90 participants studied):

  • 100% sustained blisters
  • 66% by the end of day 1
  • 89% by the end of day 2
  • Lipman et al (2014)

4. RacingThePlanet 250km 6-Stage Ultramarathons (2014)

Jordan, Gobi, Madagascar and Atacama Deserts

Blister incidence (group of 128 participants studied):

  • 83% of runners sustained blisters
  • 80% of blisters developed by the end of day 2
  • Lipman et al (2016)

5. 2010 & 2011 Al Andalus Ultimate Trail 219km 5-Day Ultramarathon (Spain)

The 50 competitors studied sustained 110 blisters ie: 2.2 blisters per runner

  • Day 1: 34%
  • Day 2: 54%
  • Day 3: 72%
  • Day 4: 76%
  • Day 5: not recorded
  • Scheer et al (2014)

 

THE 3 MOST COMMON ULTRAMARATHON BLISTERS

  1. Pinch blisters [5:36]
  2. Heel edge blisters [7:35]
  3. Ball-of-foot blisters [11:49]

 

BLISTER TREATMENT

 

BLISTER PREVENTION

The prevention of blisters in ultramarathon is very possible and should be the ultimate aim. Start here.

 

BLISTER PREVENTION BY BLISTER LOCATION

  1. Pinch blisters [57:34]
  2. Heel edge blisters [1:01:37]
  3. Ball-of-foot blisters [1:06:45]

 

CONCLUSION

 

blisters in ultramarathon - most likely blister

 

👣 Southern Lakes Ultra (2022)

 

Questions?

If you’re training for an ultramarathon and you’ve got questions, post them in the comments section below. I’ll be happy to help :)

 

References

  1. Hoffman MD, Fogard K. Factors related to successful completion of a 161-km ultramarathon. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2011;6(1):25-37. doi:10.1123/ijspp.6.1.25
  2. Krabak BJ, Waite B, Schiff MA. Study of injury and illness rates in multiday ultramarathon runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(12):2314-2320. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e318221bfe3
  3. Hoffman MD, Pasternak A, Rogers IR, et al. Medical services at ultra-endurance foot races in remote environments: Medical issues and consensus guidelines. Sport Med. 2014;44(8):1055-1069. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0189-3
  4. Lipman GS, Ellis MA, Lewis EJ, et al. A Prospective Randomized Blister Prevention Trial Assessing Paper Tape in Endurance Distances (Pre-TAPED). Wilderness Environ Med. 2014;25(4):457-461. doi:10.1016/j.wem.2014.06.013
  5. Lipman GS, Sharp LJ, Christensen M, et al. Paper Tape Prevents Foot Blisters: A Randomized Prevention Trial Assessing Paper Tape in Endurance Distances II (Pre-TAPED II). Clin J Sport Med. 2016;26(5):362-368. doi:10.1097/JSM.0000000000000319