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As many of you know, my sister, a runner and triathlete (Ironman at that!) is a cancer survivor. Malignant melanoma to be exact, diagnosed at the young age of 34. It an odd twist of events, it was Holly and her cancer that
suckered inspired me into running in the first place. But I’m not here today to tell that story again. Instead, I want to talk about something that is very much a reality and threat to us endurance athletes: skin cancer.
We aren’t dubbed “endurance” athletes for no reason at all. When we do something, we do it for a long time. And for most of us, that means between training and racing, we spend A LOT of time outdoors, exposed to the harsh rays of the sun.
Now fess up: How many of you regularly apply sunscreen before going out for that 20 miler? How about that “quick 3 miler”? No? Not high on your priority list? OK I’ll admit, I spent plenty a summer as a care free surfer girl roasting my skin out in the open ocean. Sunburns were a regular for me, as was a glow so deep I rivaled the girls on Jersey Shore. That is, until skin cancer hit home. And then I learned the facts:
-Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million cases in two million people are diagnosed annually.
-Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidents of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
–One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
-80% of skin cancer cases are preventable by using PROPER sun protection and a lot of the sun damage occurs in cloudy weather or when people think they don’t “need” sunblock
Believe me (or just ask my sister), a sunburn may put a damper on your training, but nothing like a year long round of chemotherapy will. Or heaven forbid, a worse outcome…
So, now that I have you thinking about sunscreen, let me share with you a new product I was thrilled to be able to try (oddly enough through a mutual connection to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults and Team FIGHT)
A little about SCAPE: skincare/sun care for athletes developed by the PhD (Dr. Nic Martens, fellow triathlete and surfer) behind Neutrogena’s biggest product launch in history, who is also responsible for Helioplex and Ultra Sheer. The polymer technology and science in the product is innovative and has a specific focus on Skin Cancer Awareness Protection Education. In fact, the key athlete that helped develop the product, Ironman World Champ, Craig Alexander, had a melanoma removed a few years back. He found SCAPE while it was in development phased and has not used anything since.
-5X more waterproof than any other product on the market
– achieved through a new polymer technology similar to an ultra-thin Gore-Tex layer to hold the sunscreen in place
-Will not rub off and go into your eyes (I can vouch for that!)
-Breathable – allows the skin to breathe and keep body temperature down and doesn’t clog pores (again, agreed!)
-Has the highest UVA protection on the market – a result of making the Avobenzone molecule photo-stable
-Loaded with vitamin E and antioxidants to protect and nourish the skin
What I have to say:
The lotion (SPF 30+): While SCAPE doesn’t have that awesome coconut beachy smell that I’ve always loved about sunscreen, it does have a very light, very refreshing smell. In other words, you won’t smell like a cabana boy, and it won’t bother you after smelling it for 26 long miles of running or 110 on the bike. It goes on creamy , but thick, so you FEEL like you are protected. And as for a test? Well while I clearly haven’t been able to run far or long lately, I have put in some serious time building sand castles on the beach with my boys. Between diving in the water too cool off, and sweating my booty off in the 90+ degrees that is South Carolina in the summer, my pasty white self did not burn. Not even slightly pink
The lip balm: sunburned lips are THE WORST! Not only do they hurt, but they peel for what feels like, 3 months straight after you burn them. Really, no fun. The SCAPE lip balm, SPF 50+, is colorless (I could use a little sparkle, but I’m sure my fellow male athletes appreciate the lack thereof on their own lips) and has a very slight lemon taste. It’s incredibly moisturizing, and more importantly, IT WORKS. My lips stay kissable for another day.
The Face Stick (SPF 50+): Think of it as body glide for your face. Really, that’s what the little stick reminded me of! Only, clearly less sticky. In fact it went on so smooth and effortless, I felt like maybe I didn’t get any on my face. Again with the VERY light almost lemon smell. And guess what, it worked well, no burns! No running into the eyes, and no clogged pores, just as promised. The SCAPE lab people claim that the face stick can be applied to wet or sweaty skin, which is a bonus. The size of the little stick is perfect to stick in your cycling jersey or spi belt, to reapply on the go (literally).
Bottom line, this appears to be a perfect sunscreen for any type of athlete or outdoor enthusiast alike. I urge you all to give SCAPE a try. But even more so, I urge you to, no matter what, lather up with a quality sunscreen before you head out the door. I LOATHE cancer with every ounce of my being, and I don’t want to see a single one of you have to fight that battle, especially one that could so easily be prevented.
For more information on SCAPE, and to view the other products they have available:
check out their website: http://www.scapelabs.com/
read an interview with Dr. Nic Martens here