Monday, July 27, 2009

More Badwater Musings

I spent several hours this weekend sifting through the 60 plus video clips that were taken by the crew while on the Badwater course, and with each and every one comes more insight into our journey.  Badwater is so much about family, and about growing together as one, not only with the individual runner and his/her crew, but also with the other runners and crew members sharing the Badwater course and journey.

I have experienced Badwater from the crew perspective (in 2008 as crew chief for Jackie Florine).  It is a very difficult task, often described as being more difficult than actually running in the event.  Crew members many times neglect their own well-being in an effort to support their runner, which can, of course, lead to crew-related health issues.  Lack of sleep coupled with constantly being on the go and attending to the runner can make it difficult to deal with a runner that is struggling and uncooperative (which certainly happens given the conditions).  Without the crew, there simply is no runner, and the runner must (in an event such as this) rely heavily on his/her crew for a variety of things.  For example, the runner may think that he/she has consumed enough water, replaced electrolytes sufficiently, and/or eaten enough food.  However, over the course of 135 miles in 120+ degree heat, and particularly for those runners that go through the sleep deprivation associated with two sunsets and sunrises on the course, it is almost impossible to keep up with such intake.

As a family (somewhat like a parent would do with a child), the crew keeps a watchful eye over the runner, attempting to ensure that the runner is properly nourished.  This may involve some creative ways to get the runner to consume calories at a time when the runner may resist taking in solid and liquid food.  It takes me back to my days as a youth when my mother would mask the taste of broccoli and cauliflower with parmesan cheese to get me and my brothers to eat what otherwise tasted like dirt to us.  That brings me to the video below taken by Jen.  It speaks for itself, but it is a great example of creative thinking by the crew to find a way to get me to consume calories at a time when I refused to do so.  Note how many packets of Gu that Jen was able to get me to consume without my knowledge, and just how she got it into my caloric consumption.

2009 Badwater Ultramarathon - Slipping Gu Into Everything from Tony Portera on Vimeo.


  1. That's funny. But you're right, you need people like that to look out for you! Seems like you chose a wise and caring crew!

  2. cool video. i was totally with her until she mentioned the burger. i'm sorry, a gu-burger just sounds nasty. nasty nasty nasty. blech.