Julie Nisbet is an avid runner and mother who lives in Shildon, England.Recently, she participated in an Ultra Runner Marathon where she ran 69 miles in 21 hours.
That’s a lot of miles.
She started her 69-mile ran at 7 a.m. without any sunscreen, but once she got her first pause at 10 a.m., she applied SPF 30 all over her body and legs.
She thought the SPF 30 would be enough, telling us that, “It was only 10 a.m., and the sun wasn’t too high in the sky, so at that point I still felt OK.” When she reached her next pause at 27 miles, she said she could feel the backs of her legs burning. But she just applied more sunscreen and go on.
But, 21 hours later, when she ran 69-mile, she said the burning sensation on the back of her legs was massive, and small bubbles had begun to form.
(Warning: these images are pretty graphic.)
After napping for a couple of hours, she said she went to an Urgent Care clinic where they bandaged her up and asked her to return the next day.
The next day, her pretty small bubbles had become huge — and extremely painful.
By day three, she said her pain was fatal as they drained the fluid and re-bandaged her legs once again. But she is finally recovering now.
“The healing process has been painful — the burning and throbbing as the bubbles have filled was a horrendous experience. The pressure in my legs when standing/walking has been also been agonizing at times. But a week on, it’s all improving. The itching beneath the bandages has started, so hopefully I can have the bandages off completely in the next few weeks!”
“Serious sunburns are very common in marathon runners,” Dr. Whitney Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist, told us. “People often think sunscreen is enough, but most people apply too little sunscreen.”
According to Bowe, “even if your bottle says SPF 30, you are probably only getting an SPF of 10 or 15 based on the amount most people typically apply. Also, people don’t reapply often enough. If your skin is dry, you can get away with reapplying every two hours, but athletes usually are sweating.”
And, in case you were questioning, she is aware of her mistake. She told us “I’m under no illusion of how careless I was. Our body is a great, but it also needs continuous care, and I didn’t pay enough attention during that race to reapply sun-cream. It’s been a tough lesson to learn.”
If you’re totally horrified to go out in the sun now — don’t worry. Dr. Bowe notes that people shouldn’t fear the sun, but they do need to take care of their skin.
“Being outdoors feels great, and is important to embracing life, enjoying your family, and living a healthy lifestyle. The catch is, you just need to be safe and take care of your skin.”
Due to the pain of the burns, Nisbet said she hasn’t yet celebrated what she did accomplish that day. “I haven’t had time to be proud of the fact that I started, and finished, my first ever Ultra marathon, completing a distance of 69 miles!”
We hope she gets to practice that joy soon!