American running legend Deena Kastor, crew member for now 5-time Badwater finisher Shannon Farar-Griefer, would describe the Badwater Ultramarathon as "a true test of human spirit," that "makes me believe far more is possible than we give ourselves credit for." Commenting on the conditions at Badwater, she said it was, "the most oppressive conditions I have ever witnessed." What she said that made me smile the most was, "Badwater was awesome...Next year I want to pile you and your friends into an air-conditioned bus so you can witness this amazing 135-mile race." Badwater truly is awesome.
My second Badwater Ultramarathon was as phenomenal as the first. The race report I wrote about my 2009 crossing (see "Race Report : Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon") was, at the time, the most difficult race report that i had written, and this one is no different. It was a continuation of a journey that started last July, one that continues even beyond the 2010 finish. It was another journey of self-discovery and awareness, and a battle against both external elements and internal demons. The experiences I have had at Badwater have become the source of my inner strength, and I very often turn to those experiences (the challenges, the journey, the triumphs, the memories, both good and bad) in times of despair, desperation and hopelessness, not just in ultra-running, but in life itself.
|Time Station Splits - started out a bit too fast, paid for it, but finished strong.|
|My Buddies From Brazil 135 - Ashley and Michelle (crewing Ray)|
|The Amazing Zoe !!|
|A Special 9th Birthday Wish to Carson|
|Marshall and Me|
|Dan, Brian and Me|
Badwater to Furnace Creek (17.4 miles) - Monday, 6:00 AM to 9:01 AM : The first thing I noticed about the 6:00 AM start (vs the 8:00 AM start last year) was that it was considerably cooler, with a ton of shade. I suppose this was both a good thing and a bad thing. Brian and I headed out at a pretty fast pace, likely too fast. But, we got lost in chatting about Brazil and other things, and before we knew it we were actually in front of the 6:00 AM group.
|Simply Amazing Picture Taken By Luis Escobar|
|Lane and His Crew|
|Running With Chris to Panamint Springs|
Chris: He needs a turkey sandwich with mayo and the crusts cut off,.
Steve: Ok, for now take your water bottle.
Chris: Ok, thanks, but we need that turkey sandwich with mayo and the crusts cut off.
Steve: Sure, no problem. See you in a mile.
Chris: What the #$%#?
Me: What the #$%#?
I was cracking up. Actually, the first thing I said, a la Nick Palazzo and his "where's my $%@#$#@ soup" line from Running on the Sun, was where's my #%@#$#@ turkey sandwich. Chris and I came up with so many funny lines to stay to Steve when we caught up to the van. We had the, "hey, why don't you just go ahead and drive to Lone Pine and we'll meet you there," and a few others, but settled on the "please, when I ask for a turkey sandwich and don't say I'll take it in a mile, I really mean I want it, like, now." :) It was really a comical exchange that put some new life us all.
|Lane and Sarah|
|Around Mile 110 - Still Having Fun|
Things started out slowly. Eric was pacing at this point, and we were focusing on keeping 20 minute miles. I was counting every mile on my fingers. 12 more to go. 11...10...9...8. At around mile 126 or 127, Herb had grown tired and had Steve pick him up so he could get some rest in the hotel. Herb said, "see you in about 4 hours." I put that one in the back of my mind as well, and although he probably didn't mean it to be motivating, it was. Then, mile 128. I vaguely remember a comment from the crew van to which I responded, "fine, you want me to run, give me my headphones." With my Ipod turned up full blast and Chris pacing, we ran. 10 minute miles, maybe even a tad faster. The crew log has written on it, "TONY GOING BANANAS...Woo hoo," and "Chris says Tony looks like a white Teletubby with his white headphones and outfit."
|Race Director Chris Kostman Giving Me My 2nd Badwater Buckle|
After spending so much time with Alisa and her crew on the course, we just had to wait to congratulate her on her awesome finish:
It was really cool when someone pointed out our time split for the last 4 miles (1:06:15), and that of the 76 finishers, only 9 of them ran those final 4 miles up Whitney Portal Road faster than we did. It looks something like this :
0:57:00 - Brian Krogmann (12th overall)
0:58:00 - Nick Hollon (13th overall)
0:59:48 - Zach Gingerich (1st overall)
1:00:30 - William Ansick (28th overall)
1:02:04 - David Ploskonka (17th overall)
1:02:38 - Ian Adamson (18th overall)
1:03:38 - Oswaldo Lopez (2nd overall)
1:05:12 - Jamie Donaldson (3rd overall, 1st female)
1:06:02 - Iso Yucra (32nd overall)
1:06:15 - Me
Feet...no problem. I had thought I might have some blisters, but holy crap were my feet in great shape. Using Drymax Maximum Protection Running Socks, my feet were virtually flawless - two tiny blisters of no consequence, literally the size of a dime or smaller, one on my right heel, the other in between my big toe and 2nd toe. Just some sore and swollen feet. Thanks again to Drymax Socks for keeping my feet in great shape.
Also, Moeben Sleeves...these are the bomb! Loved them for the protection from the sun, and they were great to soak with cold water. I even put some ice underneath them to keep me even cooler.
|Herb, Steve, Rob, Me, Sean, Jamie and David|
The time and effort put into this event by the race staff and all of the volunteers is absolutely extraordinary. A huge thank you to Chris Kostman and his entire staff for all that they do!
Badwater is simply amazing. I cannot imagine it not being part of my running life. I miss it already. I miss all the old and new friends I got to visit with while in Death Valley, and the time (sometimes brief) on the course I got to spend with folks like Jimmy Dean Freeman, Alisa and her crew, Lane, Shannon, Iris Cooper Imhof, and many others. Thank you Iris for that coconut ice cream and rice pudding!
It is an honor and privilege to get accepted to run in the Badwater Ultramarathon, an opportunity that I do not take lightly. Will I give it yet another go? Well, one way or another I hope to be a part of Badwater for years to come, whether it be as a runner, a crew member or volunteer. Part of me would love to go back and experience it as a crew member or volunteer, to help others experience this life altering event. But, if I am blessed and lucky to get accepted to run again in the future, you can bet your ass I'm jumping all over it!