It has only been a short time since we were successful in completing our third consecutive Badwater Ultramarathon, this time in 39 hours, 59 minutes, 14 seconds.....shaving off 6 hours from our previous best finish in 2010 (45:58:15).....a short time since we left Death Valley, a place (and a race) that has become a yearly ritual of growth, internal reflection, and spiritual triumph, a place where you can literally become one with your surroundings, a place where you can forget everything, yet remember and relive so much. It is often times nearly impossible to describe in words what Death Valley and the Badwater Ultramarathon is and means on an individual level. It certainly is a place that facilitates tremendous internal reflection.....reflection that is quite life changing. The best way to understand it, to get it, to know and feel it, is to go there, and each visit, each experience, each journey, will offer distinct and separate memories, and forever impact the lives we live.
|The "Crew to the Crew"|
• 30 gallons of water
• 100 lbs of ice
• 75 S-caps
• 100 Hammer Gels
• 12 servings Perpetuem
• 20 servings Heed
• 3 servings Ultragen
• 3 lbs of turkey
• 2 lbs of cheese
• 2 loaves of bread
• 6 pbj sandwiches
• 2 liters Mountain Dew
• 2 gallons Gatorade
• 1 liter Ginger ale
• 1 quart OJ
• 10 Red Bulls
• 2 Cantaloupes
• 1 large smoothie
• 6 ice pops
• 4 popped blisters
• 1 tube Sportslick
• 3 cans sunscreen
• 15 Tylenol
• 1 Rattle Snake scare
• 135 miles by Tony in 39hrs 59min
• 3 crew members pace about 40 miles each
• 550 times getting both in and out of the crew vehicle
• 45 hours no sleep
• McDonald's and Beer post run
• 3rd Badwater Buckle for Tony:)
Ok, so, the actual race. Another difference from the prior 2 years at Badwater was the establishment of a clear set of goal times for each "stretch" of the race, basically from check point to check point. Yes, 36 hours was the "dream goal".....the goal that we thought was on the edge of attainability. The "realistic" goal was somewhere between there and 40 hours, and it wasn't until the stretch from Darwin (90.1 miles) to Lone Pine (122.3) miles that goal re-assessment landed us at shooting for the 39-hour range. Below are the time goals we set (for the particular section) and how they played out, followed by a comparison between our times from 2010 vs 2011 (chart provided by the Badwater Ultramarathon web-cast):
Start to Furnace Creek (17.4 miles) - Goal time 3:30 (nearly 30 minutes slower than last year).....actual of 3:20
FC to Stovepipe Wells (41.9 miles) - Goal time 6:00.....actual of 5:55
SPW to Panamint Springs (72.3 miles) - Goal time 7:30.....actual of 9:27
PS to Darwin (90.1 miles) - Goal time 7:00.....actual of 6:20 (making up 40 minutes from the prior section)
DW to Lone Pine (122.3 miles) - Goal time 8:00.....actual of 10:43 (the longest, toughest stretch, a place for future improvement)
LP to Finish (135.0 miles) - Goal time 4:00.....actual of 4:14 (and faster than 2010 by 8 minutes)
With the exception of the stretch from Panamint Springs (72.3 miles) to Darwin (90.1 miles), which took a mere 6 minutes longer in 2011 vs 2010, but was actually 40 minutes faster than our goal time, and the stretch from the Start to Furnace Creek (17.4 miles), which was intentionally meant to be 30 minutes slower than in 2010, we improved (and some times greatly improved) our times. In 2010 it took us 7:21 to get from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells.....in 2011, only 5:55. Better yet, in 2010 it took us 12:53 to get from Stovepipe Wells to Panamint Springs, a section that included the 5,000 foot, 17 mile climb up Townes Pass.....in 2011, a 3 hour and 26 minute improvement to 9:27.
|2010 Badwater Ultramarathon Splits|
|2011 Badwater Ultramarathon Splits|
|Past Crew-Member Now Racer Jen Vogel|
|Zach Gingerich and Evan Hone (shirt-less)|
|"Badwater" Ben Jones|
|Moeben Founder Shannon Farar-Griefer|
|Legends Marshal Ulrich and Lisa Smith-Batchen|
|Off We Go|
|Ed Ettinghausen (costume), Ed Kelly and Meredith Murphy|
|Ab-Tastic...I'm keeping my shirt on...|
|...but enjoying every second of it.|
|Jarom Thurston and Mario Lacerda|
|The Solitude of the Night|
|My Secret Weapon Pacer|
|Race Director Chris Kostman|
There are so many people to thank.
For starters, this race.....this experience.....this journey of self-discovery.....it would not exists without the herculean efforts of Chris Kostman and the entire AdventureCORPS and Badwater race staff. They are true believers in the triumph of the human spirit, and their dedication and devotion to this event and its participants is second to none. The webcast production team (Keith Kostman, Anna Leeg and Marcus Edvalson), the webcast video team (Rachel Schmitt, Lauren McMachon and Angel Rincon), the photography team (Ron Jones, Poosa Kostman, Dave and Margaret Nelson, Jimena Rodriguez), the race operations team (Mike Angelos, Jeff Bell, Ruben Cantu, Scott Dakus, Leon Draxler, Tracy Fisher, Mandy Genato, Ricky Herrera, Poosa Kostman, Joe Garza, Steve Gray, Ashley Gray, Jay Hodde, Mary Kashurba, Sophie Kashurba, Tim Kjenstad, Cory Linkel, Don Meyer, John Marino, John Marino, Jr., Scott Wall, John Wiley, Don Lundell & Gillian Robinson), the medical team (Megan Dell, Dave Heckman, Jeff Lynn, Steve Teal, Andrea Harrell and Francis Ignacio), and the foot care team (Denise Jones and John Vonhoff).....and everyone that I may have missed.....without them none of this would be possible.
My crew, Eric Gelber, Jason Overbaugh and Chuck Mathison. They were amazing from start to finish, always going the extra "mile" for me to make sure this journey was successful and meaningful. Of course, the "crew to the crew", my wife and two daughters. They (my daughters) actually behaved most of the time and having my family there was even more valuable and meaningful than I could have ever imagined. If I ever get the chance to return to Badwater I will surely beg them to make the journey with me.
To everyone that contributed to our fund-raising efforts, a huge thank you! Together we raised over $32,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation in a very, very short period of time. However, our efforts, like our journey, does not end with completion of the race. If you can support this amazing charity, please do!
To everyone that sent an email before and after the race, to all of my friends that offered their tremendous support, I thank you a thousand fold and appreciate your friendship and kindness.
There are no guarantees that I will ever be accepted to run in the Badwater Ultramarathon again, which is why I treat every step out there as if it will be my last. The number and quality of applicants is growing and getting better with each passing year. I will surely apply again. I will undoubtedly keep my fingers crossed. I will always hold out hope that I will some day get to return to Badwater and continue the learning and growing process that began a few years ago. But, no matter what, I can say that without a shadow of a doubt, that the friendships and memories that have come from participating in the Badwater Ultramarathon, the lessons learned along the way, and the profound impact that it has had on me as a person and on my life, will forever be etched in my soul.
Legendary NHL broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick often invokes the words of the late Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News writer Steve Summers at the end of championship games, expanding on that quote.....
The experience of the Badwater Ultramarathon flashes by in what seems like milliseconds. But, the memories and the impact it has are forever a part what shapes life in the future. Those memories will never fade.