Friday, April 24, 2009

"The Insights of a Joggernaut, Al Arnold"

The following is a note written by the legendary Al Arnold that is posted on the Badwater Ultramarathon web-site.  If recollection serves me well, the note was read by race director Chris Kostman to all of the 2008 Badwater Ultramarathon participants at the pre-race meeting in Furnace Creek on July 13, 2008:

"DNF" is a Dirty Word (actually, three of them), July 13, 2008:

Hello everyone. I would like to remind, ALL OF YOU, why you are "in-the-running." As individuals it is imperative that you Finish What You Start! Being a member of the Application Review Committee, I have evaluated hundreds of BW applications and have never seen any Badwater Ultramarathon where ALL of the participants finished the event. To enter this event I expect that all of you are capable of a respectful elapsed time of 60 hours or less. But, when you fail to finish ........ this IS NOT acceptable!! In '02 (when I was at the race in person) I was shocked to see all of the "In need of medical treatment or sleep" at Stovepipe Wells What was that all about? It's only at 40 miles. That's not even a third of the way. This Ultra event invites only the toughest because that 'Long White Line' is supposed to be a realistic challenge for the hardy. If you feel that you're not up-to-the-task ........ do yourself a favor: STAY AWAY from the starting line.

Remember 'Forest Gump': "Stupid is as stupid does". IF you manage your crew and yourself, you will finish this race. With a few exceptions, this Ultra is not about your finishing time BUT, it is about your being able to finish. Either you have "heart" or you don't! Statistics will predict the recording of "DNF's". Collectively, EVERYONE should start putting pressure on this concept. I guarantee that ANYONE that is recorded as a DNF (unless you get run-over by a 'blue lizard'), will be be very unhappy with my ranking of a ZERO on a future application. That could receive my recommendation of 'one year's probation'. That, my friends, is "tough love"! If you're tough, then PROVE IT! Not to me but to yourself. So, IF you all pull-together then BW 135 will have demonstrated that, not just a few, but the entire field is a great success. Who, after all those hours and miles of training, wants to return home with a DNF!?

How can I be so adamant, you might say, when I DNF'd in '74 and '75? My crew member almost died of intense heat in '74. He wasn't even past Furnace Creek. In '75 I had just passed Towne's Pass .... in 10 hours. That was it: too heavy, too fast & "Stupid is as stupid does". No one here tonight is stupid. Think smart, be smart.
The significance of this post you might wonder ?  Well, thanks to a little bit of luck (and the withdrawal of a few of the accepted entrants in the 2009 Badwater Ultramarathon), I am in and will often re-read Al Arnold's note as part of my training.  More to follow, including more information on the charity that I will be raising money for in connection with Badwater, Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Tommorrow I will be volunteering with Wayne at the Sybil Ludington 50k in Carmel, New York, on what is forecast to be a beautiful sunny day.


  1. Oh WOW!!! Exciting!!! Congrats Tony! I wish I could be there to help but I'll be with you in spirit and tracking you online if possible. Happy Training!

  2. I remember that from last year...glad you will be there.

  3. Great News! ...and don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to read Al's note over and over again while sitting in the sauna over the next 3 months!

  4. Congratulations on getting in! That should sure make for some great blog posts. I haven't been reading your blog long enough to know if you have ever done the race before or not.

  5. Holly cow! Disregard my comment on the post above. Yay!!!

  6. Olga - :)))

    Chad - Never before...only crewed.

  7. Holy crap! That is fantastic -- and maybe a little frightening -- news! Oh, you're going to do so well, Tony. My friend Akos has done it with a handicapped crew and still done very well. I need to send you the piece I wrote for Marathon & Beyond on his first Badwater. You might find it helpful.