The Alternative Book of Running Records #2


 Nastiest blister

All runners are familiar with the occasional blister, but in 1996, Douglas Wetwhistle of Bicester hobbled his way into the record books with an absolute corker.

Douglas was no stranger to long distance running, and had completed dozens of marathons and several ultras. However, his decision to enter the 1996 Marathon Des Sables would come to be his undoing. For those not familiar with the MDS, it’s a six day race across the Sahara Desert with a total distance of over 150 miles in some of the most inhospitable conditions on the planet. It’s fair to say that, as races go, this one is A Bit Tricky.

Douglas prepared well for the race. He followed a strict training plan, researched every inch of the course and bought the very best kit that he could afford. It paid off, and for the first two days of the race he was comfortably in the top five runners. However, on day three, a single grain of sand found its way into his shoe and nestled under his big toe where it began to rub. Due to nerve damage caused by an unfortunate accident at the age of five involving a corby trouser press and a bag of coconuts, Douglas had an extremely high pain threshold. It was because of this that he didn’t notice what was happening in his left shoe. The grain of sand combined with the sweltering heat and the damp sweat in such a way that it created a perfect storm of friction. A blister began to form. Small at first, but growing in size and ferocity at an alarming rate.

Douglas carried on, oblivious. His pace began to suffer, and although at the time he could not work out why this was, he would later learn that over the course of the race his left foot had become a full 14kg heavier, purely due to blister gunk1.

He crossed the line in 24th place and it was only then that he noticed that one of his feet was now approximately the size of a space hopper.

(I probably should have mentioned this sooner, but as well as being an accomplished runner, Douglas was also very, very, VERY stupid.)

When he finally plucked up the courage to take off his barely intact shoe, seven marshals fainted on the spot and one had to be restrained by his colleagues as he tried to scoop out his own eyeballs with a teaspoon. Now free, the angry pulsating dome on Douglas’ foot began to swell.

Nobody knows how it got to be so big. Some say that it was a natural response from the human body after being put through such a gruelling race. Others suggest that it might have something to do with the time a gypsy cursed Douglas to “one day have the biggest blister in the world”. There are even some who say that the whole thing is just made up. But one thing that everyone agrees on (except that last bunch) is that it really was huge. Seriously, he needed a trolley.

Of course, medical experts tried their hardest to get rid of the blister; but all attempts at popping it just resulted in the needle either breaking or simply being absorbed into the gooey lump, never to be seen again. One unfortunate doctor lost his watch in there, and it was a really nice watch.

Douglas was last seen in October 1997, after declaring to the world that he was exiling himself because he was tired of being treated like a freak, and because he was really struggling to find socks that fitted. At the last measurement, the blister was a metre across and weighed more than a sheep, with scientists estimating that, if it did eventually pop, the blast would devastate everything within a 30 metre radius. And by “devastate”, they meant “cover in goo”.

Douglas might be gone now, but his blister lives on in the form of its very own Japanese cartoon series which regularly attracts millions of viewers. The title roughly translates as “Angry Spot furiously destroys all in its path happy Saturday show funtime”. In it, the blister flies a helicopter and solves mysteries, while Douglas is portrayed as a little talking squirrel.

1 I think that’s the proper term. I’m not a doctor.

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