Thursday, July 9, 2009

Badwater - What's Ahead ?

Ready or not, its here.  135 miles from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney.  The "most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet."  The "world's toughest footrace."  On Monday at 8:00 AM (PST) I will stand at the starting line of the Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon.  With me with be a crew of 5 extremely experienced ultra runners, which includes two 2009 100-mile champions (more on the crew to follow).  Am I ready ?  I sure as #%$ hope so !

The starting line is adjacent to a pool of saltwater located at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, marking the lowest elevation in the Western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level.  After covering three mountain ranges and approximately 13,000 feet of cumulative vertical ascent (and 4,700 feet of cumulative descent), the race finishes at the Mount Whitney Portals (the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the lower 48) at an elevation of nearly 8,300 feet.  Temperatures reach in to the 120s, dropping to lows in the 80s and 90s overnight.

Overall Eleavation Profile

Leaving Badwater, runners head to Furnace Creek Ranch (17.4 miles), the point at which one can pick up a pacer.  With the 8:00 AM start, I anticipate hitting Furance Creek around mid-day, as the heat begins to rise, making the trek to Stove Pipe Wells as brutal as it will get on day one.

Badwater to Stovepipe Wells (41.9 miles)

Once hitting Stovepipe Wells, things will get even more interesting.  Nearly 17 miles and 5,000 feet of constant ascent to the summit of Townes Pass (58.7 miles) with temperatures dropping to a luke-warm 90 degrees will certainly be a wake-up call.  The long ascent is followed by a long descent, then about 12 long straight miles.  The road is steep and narrow.

Townes Pass Elevation Profile - 17 Miles of Constant Ascent

Another climb awaits, to the top of Father Crowley's Turnout at 4,000 feet elevation.  Yet, that isn't the top, as the road continues to rise to 5,000 feet elevation over rolling hills, eventually descending into the Owen's Valley.

Miles 60 to 90 - Descent off Townes Pass into Panamint Vally, Then More Climbing

Miles 71 to 92 - 1,750 feet to 5,050 feet

The trek to Lone Pine is long and straight, and at night you can see the crew van hazards flashing in the distance as those runners climb the Portal Road.  A right turn into Lone Pine and a left turn onto the Portal Road marks the beginning of the final 13 long, grueling and dangerous miles of switchbacks that take you to the finish.

Lone Pine to the Finish - 3,610 feet to 8,360 feet

The goal is, obviously, to finish.

We have a stellar crew on board to make the crossing.

Good friend and training mate Wayne Bates is the "Crew Chief".  Wayne has completed the Vermont 100 (recall the passed out in a beg of leaves scene), Rocky Raccon 100 and Umstead 100 (where he notched a sub-24 hour finish).

Drymax athlete Brian Krogmann, the 2009 Keys 100 champion and 2009 3rd place finisher at the San Diego 100 (among other top level finishes) joins us as well.

Keeping to the "champion" theme, we were able to secure 2009 Keys 100 women's champion Jen Vogel.  Jen also was my pacer in my 21 hour finish at Umstead 100.  Where you find Jen, you find Lane, Jen's husband.  Lane recently finished the 2009 Umstead 100, and has tremendous crewing experience from Jen's Keys 100 victory.

Last but not least, is West Coast veteran Jeff Tropple, all around guru.

In addition, several good friends are running this year at Badwater, including defending women's champion Jamie Donaldson, Peggy Gaudet, Terry Madl, and Leigh Corbin.

Well, this is last post for at least a week.  After returning from Badwater next Thursday, I will head off to the Vermont 100 to crew and pace Bob Gentile.  Until my return.....happy running, and think "cool thoughts".


  1. LOVE this post! You will rock! You have the crew, you have the training, and you have the guts! I am so excited to be sharing the road with you! Here's to an epic journey!

  2. I know it's far. I know it's steep. I know it's hot. But actually seeing and hearing the description here - WOW!!!
    I don't know how you feel about this but I'm going to say it anyway: you (and your crew/pacers) will be in my prayers. And everyone else there too. ;)
    Take care. Best of luck to you.

  3. good luck. try to have fun. we will be watching.

  4. Wow, very exciting, looking forward to following your jouney. Best wishes and luck!

  5. Am I ready ? I sure as #%$ hope so !
    YES you sure as #%$ are READY!!

    This is the FUN part, you trained hard now go enjoy the journey, all 135 miles of it :-)

    Burrrrrrrr !!!

    See ya in NY when u get back!!

  6. Good luck Tony, we're cheering you on!


  7. Hoping you make it through safe, sound and happy. Kick ass!

  8. Incredible. Best of luck!! Gonna be a heck of an experience. Can't wait to hear the tale...

  9. Good luck Tony. Run Strong and Enjoy.


  10. I've got the Web site all cued up to follow you, Tony. I've got my fingers crossed for you and your crew. I think you're gonna rock the course.

  11. Well, I know you won't see this until long after you're done. But I wanted you to know I've been watching you. You've made it 90 miles now. The night is coming and with that comes a little cooler temperatures. You're going to make it!!! I will check on you in the morning and see what progress you've made. Maybe you'll be done. Great job. ;)

  12. I am not going to spoil your post-race post, but I'm dying to know what it was like out there w/ a fire raging.

  13. Holly cow, dude. You rock. It's that simple.