Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Race Report : Badwwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon

I already know that this is going to be the most difficult race report that I have written to date, for a variety of reasons.  For starters, I still cannot grasp the enormity of what we have all gone through and accomplished at Badwater.  What started out as an ultra race quickly became a journey of self-discovery and awareness, a battle against both the external elements and internal demons.  There is so much of the 45 hour 24 minute and 03 second journey that I do not remember.  Yet, what I do know with crystal clarity is this - there is absolutely no way in hell (and we were in 128 degree hell) I would have been able to cross the finish line (twice) if it weren't for five individuals, each taking valuable time from their own lives to help me finish this journey.  There are no doubt times during this journey where I "lost it", "fell apart", "snapped", and was a tad on the rude and obnoxious side (things that simply happen out there in a journey of this type), only to watch these five amazing people, without question, continue to push me to my limits and support me in my effort.  I am forever grateful to Wayne Bates, Jen Vogel, Lane Vogel, Brian Krogmann and Jeff Tropple - people that I will forever consider part of my family.

So, what follows is an attempt to provide as detailed a report of our journey from Badwater Basin to the portals of Mount Whitney as I can remember.  There are plenty of videos that the crew took (over 60), but it will take some time to go through and cut out all of the expletives (as well as to remove all of the embarrassing parts) - I may include a video or two here and there, and they will be personal and revealing, but they may show the sheer emotion that goes into an event like this.  That being said, this report will be mostly narrative, and I hope that in reading it you will realize many things about Badwater, including how it brings a crew and runner together as a family, and opens your eyes, mind and soul, tapping into to something bigger, and more meaningful, on an entirely different plane than just a race.....something simply amazing....something life-confirming.

Pre-Race:  It is nearly impossible to produce the 120+ degree conditions of Badwater on the East Coast, and just as difficult to find 17 mile road climbs, undulating hills and dangerous switch-backs.  While the sauna work helped, it certainly did not fully prepare me for the extreme temperatures that we encountered.  Yet, I felt as if I was heading to Death Valley fully prepared, both physically and mentally.  On another side-note, there is also nothing that can prepare you for the cost of Badwater.  I am sure there are ways to tweak and cut back costs (and my post-race conversations with Jonathan Gunderson, who had an amazing race - setting a personal best at Badwater by several hours, offered great incite into that), however, my first trip to Badwater resulted in out-of-pocket expenses in excess of $7,500.  I hope to put together an essay on the cost of doing Badwater at some point in the future.

Getting back to general pre-race details, Wayne and I arrived in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon and met Jen and Lane.  Las Vegas presented the first challenge of the journey, and it wasn't even heat related.  Our rental van was red.  We went back in to the office and asked if there was a silver or white colored van available - sure enough, there was - awesome - so we switched.  "Head over to space 363, sir," said the nice Hertz representative.  No problem.  Er....problem.  It was right out of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" - space 363.....empty.  I envisioned the following conversation ensuing :

Car Rental Agent: Welcome to Hertz, may I help you?
Us: Yes.
Agent: How may I help you?
Us: You can start by wiping that f'ing dumb-ass smile off your rosy, f'ing cheeks!  Then you can give me a f'ing automobile, a f'ing Datsun, a f'ing Toyota, a f'ing Mustang, a f'ing Buick!  Four f'ing wheels and a seat!
Agent: I really don't care for the way you're speaking to me.
Us: And I really don't care for the way your company left me in the middle of f'ing nowhere with the f'ing keys to a f'ing car that isn't f'ing there.  And I really didn't care to f'ing walk down a f'ing highway and across a f'ing runway to get back here to have you smile at my f'ing face.  I want a f'ing car RIGHT F'ING NOW!
Agent: May I see your rental agreement?
Us: I threw it away.
Agent: Oh boy.
Us: Oh boy what?
Agent: You're f'ed!
Well, we were almost f'ed.  When we went back into the office we were told that the red van we were initially given was given to someone else in the interim, and that there were no more vans.  Thankfully, a chat with the manager resulted in us getting that red van (and a fifty dollar credit to boot).  Next stop, the grocery store, where we loaded up on food and drinks for the race.  This is where Jen and Lane really came in handy.  Their nutritional knowledge was invaluable, and $350 later, we were headed for a treat at In-N-Out Burger.  Arriving at Stovepipe Wells, we met up with Brian and Jeff, had a nice dinner, said hello to a few other friends, and called it a night.

Sunday was filled with pre-race activities.  Runner check-in, the pre-race meeting, pictures at Badwater Basin, van organization....it was quite a busy day.  Night came before we knew it.  It was a restless night.  I thought a lot about how much I had prepared for this, and what was to come.  I thought about all of the people I knew where would be running as well, hoping they would reach their goals.  I thought about my family back home, my wife, two daughters, mom and dad, and friends. Cue alarm.

Race Start - Monday, 8:00 AM: It was humbling to stand at the starting line.  Did I really deserve to be here with all of these great runners?  Not just the runners in the 8:00 AM start with me, but also those who were already two hours into their own journey, and those that would follow just two hours behind my start.  Chris Kostman's niece performed a lovely rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  I saw my friend Peggy Gaudet.  We crewed last year for Jackie Flourine.  Now we would share the same course.  I was scared shit-less, but there was nowhere to run but forward.  We were off.

2009 Badwater - 8:00 AM Start from Tony Portera on Vimeo.

Badwater to Furnace Creek Ranch (17.4 miles) - Monday, 8:00 AM to 11:38 AM - Ok, let's get those feet going.  Most of the runners in my start went out ahead of me.  With my biggest issue in races being going out too fast, I made a conscious effort to dial it back.  After stretching the legs for about an hour, a steady run 4 / walk 1 was working well.  Just enjoy the moment and relax.  The crew that started (Wayne, Brian and Lane) had it down pat.  In fact the crew had it together the entire time.  Maybe once or twice was there something I wanted that they couldn't provide, and even then they had something even better for me.  About a mile or two before making the left turn onto Highway 190, I started to really feel the heat - it didn't bother me at first, but as time moved into the afternoon hours, I could feel it, and it was already starting to take its toll.  I reached Furnace Creek at 11:38 AM, meaning I averaged 4.79 miles per hour for that stretch, taking advantage of the "cooler" temps early on.

Furnace Creek Ranch (17.4 miles) to Stovepipe Wells (41.9 miles) - Monday, 11:38 AM to Monday, 6:32 PM - Ok, put me out of my misery now, seriously.  Good Lord !  Who turned up the heat?  Well, turn it down!  Through Stovepipe Wells, total elevation stayed at or below sea level.  Unfortunately, the temperatures did not cooperate by staying similarly low.  It was during this stretch that most, if not all, of the elite runners in the 10:00 AM starting group would pass me.  One of my favorite moments was when good friend Jamie Donaldson whizzed by and said hello.  Her husband David, who I can't say enough good things about, came back and checked on me.  From there, it was all downhill.  Collapse city.  My stomach was bothering me big time.  I hadn't done "number 1" at all, and that was sitting in the back of my mind.  When we got to Stovepipe, Jen insisted, despite my reluctance, that I head into the room for an ice bath.  Giving in, I froze my butt off in the bath - they melted at least 8 bags of ice within 10 minutes - that's how much heat was radiating from my body.  With a towel over my face, I cried, really, I cried.  It was so f'ing painful, but so worth it in the long run.  Once out of the ice bath, a different issue arose.....cramping.  OH MY GOD !!!  This was crazy.  Feet, quads, calves, hamstrings....everything was going one by one, one after the other.  This is where I am really blessed to have Jen on my crew.  A massage therapist, Jen tackled each and every cramp to submission.  Embarrassing moment - I'm in one of those hotel towels at this point - can you say "Tony, cover up!".  The ice bath video below is very revealing on a personal level, and cover little one's ears at the end.  Note that all made up and all was good.

2009 Badwater Ice Bath from Tony Portera on Vimeo.

Refreshed, we headed back out, but not before a quick trip medical.  Jeff had arranged for Denise Jones to take a look at my feet.  I had some spots that I thought might be issues.  My trusty Drymax socks were working very,  very well - my feet were totally dry the entire time.  However, the road was pitched to the left, and my left foot was taking a beating from it.  My right knee was also taking a hit from the force of the road, and it soon swelled and became painful (you may recall I had knee issues at Rocky Raccoon in February).  At medical I talked a bit with Lisa Bliss (she snapped some photos of me in Denise's reclining chair.  In all, we probably spent well over an hour and 30 minutes at Stovepipe.  We arrived there at about 6:30 PM (about a 4 mile per hour overall pace through 41.9 miles), but the delay set us back a bit on overall pace.  However, I think the stop was very important on many levels, and in the end insured a finish. 

What is this ?  A vacation ?

This section of the course was by far the toughest for me.  Mentally it was draining.  Physically it was exhausting.  Yet, it was eye-opening.  I thought about a ton of stuff during this portion of the course.  I thought about why I was here, what I was getting out of this journey, and what I was and would learn from it to use in the future.  I wasn't prepared, however, for what was to come in the next stretch.

Stovepipe Wells (41.9 miles) to Townes Pass Summit (58.7 miles) - Monday, 6:32 PM to Tuesday, Early AM - 17 miles.  4,965 feet of climbing.  Into what felt like a 30 mile per hour head-wind of fiery heat.  Simply brutal.  Each step was far more difficult then the next.  Somewhere at the 52 mile mark, the wheels really came off.  This is honestly the only part of the 17 miles that I actually remember.  I was on the road with Brian.  We were hiking well.  Every now and then Brian would say "I need you to pick it up a step or two", and I would.  I started to weave a bit on the road, feeling light-headed.  I remember that.  Sit, I need to sit.  I weaved over to the van where a crew shift change was occurring (thankfully).  Leaning on Jen, I felt dizzy, and told her I needed to sit.  The last thing I remember before waking up on the ground was hearing someone say that they should lay me down in the back of Jeff's truck, and feeling my legs give way.  I'm told it was a scene right out of the "Exorcist"....my eyes rolled back into my head, and my body collapsed like a tub of jello.  Lane would say that it was almost impossible to hold me up when everything went limp.  He slid me down to the ground as best as possible, making sure my head avoided hitting a giant rock.  If he wasn't there, if we weren't in the middle of a crew shift change, who knows what damage the fall would have done.  I'm further told that I began to vomit - several times - which would explain waking up with it all over my shirt and shorts.  Another runner just behind us had an EMT on his/her crew, and as luck would have it he came over to check on me.  He took my blood pressure and had me drink some warm water as I sat for another 10 minutes or so.  He told me I was o.k. to continue, but to keep an eye on things going forward.  I think that this episode had a big effect on the rest of my journey.  I was constantly thinking about what happened, wondering if it would reoccur, fearing that it would mean the end of my adventure.

It is from this point forward that I feel that I really got it, that I understood what this was all about, that this was something far beyond a run from point A to point B.  Even though my mind and body would go in and out of clarity and cognizance for the remainder of my time on the course, and even though my spirit and courtesy toward my crew would shift from periods of elation to periods of despair and artlessness, I still felt as if I was getting so much more out of this experience then I could have ever imagined.  If felt as if I was learning so much about myself as a human being, and so much more about life and what is important.

Townes Pass Summit (58.7 miles) to Panamint Springs (72.3 miles) - Tuesday, Early AM to Tuesday, 6;24 AM - The good news was that this section was downhill (back to 1,970 feet), and that meant some good running sections.  The bad news is that it was quad busting.  A spot just above my knee started to hurt with every step.  But, we moved.  Even though the section that spans from Stovepipe (41.9 miles) to Panamint (72.3 miles) saw a big decrease in overall speed (about 2.56 miles per hour during that time), the stretch from Townes Pass Summit to Panamint Springs was a bit faster.  I arrived at Panamint Springs at 6:24 AM on Tuesday - a perfect sunrise.  It was, true, a gorgeous night.  Jen and Lane would remark at how beautiful the stars looked in the clear sky.  I recall having some energy to look, but not much energy to share my thoughts verbally.  It was beautiful...amazing to be out here in the desert expanse.

2009 Badwater - Mile 60 Crew Motivation - The Camera from Tony Portera on Vimeo.

Panamint Springs (72.3 miles) to Darwin Turnoff (90.1 miles) - Tuesday, 6:24 AM to Tuesday, 12:32 PM - Leaving Panamint Springs there was only one thing to do - climb.  Back up we went, heading up to the 5,050 foot Darwin Turnoff.  I had gained some momentum back.  While the stretch from 41.9 miles to 72.3 miles saw a 2.56 mile per hour average, this particular stretch saw us moving at 2.90 miles per hour.  We were still struggling physically and mentally, but we were moving.  I am fairly certain that it was during this section (although it may have been the early part of the following section) that I caught a big break time-wise.  With Brian pacing, and Jeff and Wayne in the crew van, I started to really think about what was at play here.  I started to think of these 5 people who had come all this way for me, to see me do well, to push me through, to help me reach a goal.  I couldn't help but think that I was letting them down, that I wasn't moving enough, that I had wasted all of their time by acting dejected and weak.  So, it was at that moment, with all those thoughts crashing down on me that I started to run, and run well.  I was talking to myself, cursing at myself aloud, telling myself that I was a fool and weak, that I was disappointing my crew, that if I moved faster, if I ran, I'd get to the finish faster.  I was fired up, and that fired up Jeff and Wayne.  The crew van was alive. During this stretch, I think, I ran into Todd Baum's crew, in particular, friend and super ultra runner Jill Perry.  I remember going up to their crew van and telling Jill about my passing out and vomiting experience, saying "Jill !!!! You are never going to believe what happened to me !!!".  I would pas Todd every now and then, and we would switch spots here and there.  Todd would struggle a lot, and I was always thinking of him and how he was doing.  It was great to see him going up the portal road on Wednesday. I hit Darwin Turnoff at 12:32 PM on Tuesday.  90 miles in 28 hours 32 minutes.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad.

2009 Badwater - Climbing from Tony Portera on Vimeo.

Darwin Turnoff (90.1 miles) to Lone Pine (122.3 miles) - Tuesday, 12:32 PM to Wednesday, 12:14 AM - I would hit many walls again into Lone Pine, sometimes weaving into the road. I was exhausted.  Lane, Wayne and Jen were back on crew duty, and they really kept me going.  Jamie and her crew also came out at some point to check on me and that really got me going.  Jackie had come out as well to cheer us on - that was so special.  As I would slip in and out of normalcy, Jen really laid on the tough love, and it would work.  I would later learn how sneaky she is - and it was a good thing.  She got over 13 gels in me by slipping them into my drink.  I remember wondering why the coke was so discolored, and why my water tasted so awful, and now I know.  My core temperature during the day (this section was between 12:32 PM Tuesday and 12:15 AM Wednesday) was again a problem, but Lane had the trick - an ice towel that I would hold against my chest.  Not only did it work, but it put me into the shivers, and tears.  Lane took over pacing duties, and he was fantastic, constantly talking to me, constantly telling me how much of a privilege it was for him to be here, constantly thanking him for giving him the opportunity to experience this.  Are you kidding me ?  Thank me ?  No way...I should have been thanking him, and Jen, and Wayne, and Jeff and Brian.  I can think of a thousand times that I didn't say thank you.  I'm sure I wanted to, but my mind was all over the place.  And, as I reflect back on the entire journey, I know I have a better understanding and appreciation for friends and what they really mean.

Lone Pine (122.3 miles ) to 131 Mile Check Station (First Official Finish) - Wednesday, 12:14 AM to Wednesday, 3:53 AM - Hitting Lone Pine I was treated to a slice of Pizza.  Yummy !!!  I was also treated to Chris Frost, who was working at the race this year instead of running it, screaming across the road - "There's a fire at the finish.  The finish has been moved to checkpoint 6.  Buckles will be awarded for 46 hours.  Move it".  Holy crap !  A fire, huh ?  What ?  Ok, lets move.  We have 6 hours to get to mile 131.  Brian paced me to the turn, and Jeff, who trains by running the Portal Road (sick dude), would take over from there.  This puppy is all uphill.  4,000 feet of dangerous roads and switchbacks.  Portions with a 12 percent grade.  The first 2 miles of it I moved, with power-walking miles around the 16/17 minute per mile range (I had Brian's GPS watch on).  The steeper it got after the first two miles, the slower I moved, but we moved, and Jeff was huge.  At one point he was carrying 3 bottles and a hand-held light, and he still got me what I wanted.  Finally, I could see the shortened finish line in site, but the sweetest site was seeing Wayne, Jen, Lane and Brian waiting for me so we could cross together.  3:53 AM on Wednesday, it was over (well, temporarily).  43 hours, 53 minutes, 39 seconds.  Buckle.  At first I felt a sense of relief, that it was finally over.  That feeling turned to a sense of sadness - sadness that it was all over, that this tremendous mind-numbing, eye-opening, gut-wrenching journey had come to an end.  My favorite part was getting together with the crew for a big group hug.  I had been so hard on them, yet they had stood by my side every step of the way.  Family.

131 Mile Check Station to Whitney Portal Finish - Wednesday, 12:44 PM -  We drove down the Portal Road to our hotel.  I would doze in and out.  We were all tired.  We all worked so hard.  Jen had planned on putting me in another ice bath - NO !!! - but we decided I should just hit the bed without even changing clothes.  5:00 AM.  Lights out.

Knock on the door.  Dammit, it must be the cleaning service.  "One second !......Jen ?  Jamie ?  David ?  What's up ?"  Oh, they've opened the 135 mile finish and you have plenty of time to go back out there and do 3.5 miles to finish at the Whitney Portal Finish.  Huh ?  Well, I came here to do 135 miles, to finish at the top of the Portal Road, and I'll be damned if I wasn't going to.  David explained to me that my time would be based on running time, so all the time lost to the fire would be counted against me and make my time look far worse than it really was.  So what, right ?  We came here to go the distance, and we would.  The bad news was hat we had to check out of one room and move to another - enter Lane and Jen who figured they had plenty of time to do that for us while I hiked the last 3.5 miles.  I would surprise them in getting up much faster than they had thought. 

David took a look at my feet and was a huge help.  They weren't too bad, but the left foot had some spots that needed attention before we climbed the last 3.5 miles.  I had wished that Jeff was around, but we couldn't reach him.  So, David would walk with me, and Wayne and Jamie would ride in the van crewing.  I got to know David very well over the course of 3.5 miles.  This guy is an amazing, nice guy.  We chatted about everything and anything, and soon we were at the true finish, 135 miles.  And so, wearing a pair of blue Crocs (it was all I could get on), I finished the Badwater Ultramarathon for the second time, with only part of my crew by my side.  It was sweet.  We covered that last 3.5 miles at a pretty good clip.  Chris Kostman explained what would happen with our time.  We would still buckle, but we would get a running time of 52 hours 44 minutes 03 seconds, with a note that we lost 7 hours and 20 minutes due to the forest fire.  Who cares.  This thing was so much more about time and distance, far grander then anything else I could imagine.  It was over, and we were a part of the Badwater family.

Nasty pits, but hey, its hot out there !

I stuck around the finish area for quite some time.  I really wanted to see Peggy finish.  It was very important to be there for her after crewing with her last year.  We started this journey at 8:00 AM on Monday with a hug, and I wanted to complete the journey two days later by hugging her again.  Peggy's finish (video by Wayne) :

2009 Badwater - Peggy Gaudet's Finish from Tony Portera on Vimeo.

The Aftermath - I don't know where to start.  I am tired, sore, swollen.  It will all pass.  But what will not pass are the memories of this incredible journey that become so much more than I could have ever expected.  For me, this was not a race.  This was not about the distance, or the heat, or the challenge alone.  This was something bigger and more meaningful.  Something that, as hard as I try, I cannot put into words.  I supposed it will mean something different for everyone on an individual level.  I learned so much out there about life and about what is and should be iimportant in life.  I only hope that I remember what I learn and put it to good use in the future.  My wife and kids - I missed them so much while in Death Valley.  I am so glad to be back home with them and will cherish every second of every day that I have with them.

My crew.  There aren't enough words to describe how I feel about them.  I could not have done this without them, no way, no how.  Today, as I type this, I miss them all.  They put up with all of my grief and misery, and did it, moslty :), with a smile. 

Thank you, Jen.  Thank you for being there for me, for helping with my nutrition and my cramps and my ice bath, and for putting up with my attitude. 

Thank you, Lane.  Thank you for the awesome job you did pacing me, and for helping to glue me back together during the stretch to Lone Pine, and for all the hard work you put into the crew van and the rooms. 

Thank you, Brian.  Thank you for pacing me through the tougest parts of this thing, and for NOT killing me up Townes Pass, and for motivating me to go the extra step.

Thank you, Jeff.  Thank you for being the constant cheerleader, for never saying no, for getting me up that Portal Road in one piece, for always telling me that I had it.

Thank you, Wayne.  Thank you for everything, for being an amazing friend, for heat training, for every ride from the train station, for every training run, for the signs, simply, for everything.

Of course, many thanks to Chris Kostman and the Badwater staff.  These folks put on an amazing event.

Many people have asked me if I will do Badwater again.  Well, it is only a question of whether or not I get accepted again, for if I am blessed to get the opportunity to participate again, you can bet your ass I'll be there.  I miss it already.


  1. Wow. Courageous, heartfelt, raw. Badwater breaks us down and exposes our guts. I think the lessons last forever. Isn't it awesome? We are truly blessed to have such an opportunity in this clean-shaven, hair-sprayed world of ours. Beautiful. You are tough, Tony. Welcome, bro, to the Badwater family! :)

  2. Wow, Wow, WWOOOOWWWWW! You are amazing. It's amazing, but not surprising, all the stuff you went through. Man oh man. Simply incredible. I don't know what to say. I'm glad you finished. You invested a boat load of cash. I didn't know it costs that much. I guess with paying for everything for the crew, it would get expensive. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It was fun watching you. ;)

  3. Amazing report, Tony. I had no idea you had so much trouble coming into Stovepipe Wells. I don't recall ever reading about a lower "low" in any race report for any ultra by anybody. I can't imagine the despair you must have felt with 90 miles to go. It had have been overwhelming.. the feeling of crossing the finish line a day later must have been incredible.

  4. Congratulations again Tony! Absolutely inspirational. As I watched from my laptop the whole weekend getting tweets and updated times I knew that a select group of people were having experiences that, like you said, cannot be put into words. I hope to be part of that Badwater family someday (although I better start saving some $$$$!)and hopefully I have your will and determination...great work man! What a year it's been for you so far!!!

  5. All I can say is Wow!! What a testimony to the human spirit! Congratulations on a great accomplishment and a great crew!

  6. Spectacular! What an amazing journey!

  7. Tony, that was a great report. I am soooo proud of your accomplishment. I have not watched the videos since i am in the office, but will go back and treat myself to them later :) I do not have the words to compete with a race and report of that magnitude. You rocked it out there.

  8. Tony - fantastic race report. What an incredibly journey. Until I get to run it myself, I'm living vicariously through all of you. It was nice meeting you and your crew at the pub. Take care and best of luck for the rest of your race season!

  9. Tony, I don't even know where to begin! I am sooooo incredibly proud of you and your accomplishment! I cannot even imagine the pain that you were in and how it felt to cross that finish line! YOU DID IT!! Way to go, brother! Peace!

  10. I am so proud to know you! It's really valuable for all of us to acknowledge the difficulty of the Badwater Experience. You are so right! It is so much more than the distance between start and finish. Congrats! Hope you are "feelin' the love". : ) Jacki

  11. Congratulations for the race Tony.. also your report was so good. Was nice to see what an amazing team can do for a great person like you,... good luck with the following competitions and hope to see you in an race soon.. Sergio

  12. Tony, you are amazing! I think what you accomplished is so special - you really should be very proud of yourself. Thoughout the race, I kept checking the live updates and the various forums for updates on your progress. With each update, I kept cheering you on. Your attitude about family, friends, your crew, your experience, and what you will take from it are perfect. I recognize your sacrifice and committment and congratulate you on finishing in such style. Wonderful achievement buddy. Congrats!

  13. I got teary-eyed reading this, Tony. What an epic journey you just completed. And what gratitude for your crew. The videos really helped show us how much they were a part of our success. Oh, now I need to go grab some tissues.

  14. Tony..this has to be the best race report I have ever seen. We are all so proud of your amaizng effort. I love the ice bath!
    Savor all the memories


  15. Tony you forgot something very important. YOU RAISED OVER 7,000 FOR THE CAF!! you have no idea the impact that will make on others lives. One of our Getting 2 Tri athletes just got a racing chair from CAF. I would like to think it was directly related to what the 6 of us did out there.

  16. Great RR. You are the man. I'm impressed with your accomplishment; but, I'm more impressed with how grateful you are for the hard work that everyone did to help you cross the finish line. Looking forward to reading more of your ultramarathoning RRs.
    Ron Hines