Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Keeping abreast of body modifications

"Ultramarathon" runners -- those who take part in races of 50, 100 or even more miles -- tend to suffer from problems with toenails. So some of them have toenails permanently removed through surgery, a process that includes "pouring acid onto the nailbed" to prevent regrowth. Runners interviewed for the NYT story say things like "toenails are dead weight;" one who had all his toenails removed said "it's one less thing to have to deal with" on races upwards of 100 miles.

The piece is a little contradictory about whether runners who have undergone the procedure -- an estimated five to ten percent of "ultrarunners" -- feel like publicizing the fact. Some of them are "tired of being freaks, and they don't want to add anything more freakish to their résumé." Others sport t-shirts reading "Toenails are for Sissies" -- a clue to the mentality of the sport.

The most reasonable comment is from one doctor who says, "You know any sport has gone off the rails when you have to remove body parts to do it."

No comments: