Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Expression of Gratitude: The 2012 Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon

The journey that encompasses the Badwater Ultramarathon is often times incomprehensible.  To gain a true understanding of its scope and its impact on the human psyche, it is almost an absolute necessity to experience the event in some fashion, whether it be as a runner, crew member, volunteer or spectator.  Even then, the experience is so personal and individual-oriented, that conveying its true meaning in a conceivable way to non-participants can be next to impossible.

The most important element of participating in the Badwater Ultramarathon is, In my opinion, the realization and acceptance that every facet of it cannot be done alone.  Acceptance to participate in the event, preparation for it, and participation in it all require an immeasurable degree of outside assistance, and it is that assistance that should be first and foremost acknowledged with the highest degree of gratitude, some of who are not so readily identifiable, or you would not normally think of.  Thus, before delving into a full post of our 2012 account of the Badwater Ultramarathon, we begin with this post to express our utmost gratitude to and appreciation for the following people:

·       2012 Badwater Hall of Fame inductee Lisa Smith-Batchen.  I sent Lisa a note in May of 2005 about the feasibility of participating in ultra-endurance events.  At the time I had completed only 3 marathons (2004 Twin Cities Marathon; 2005 Walt Disney World Marathon; 2005 Long Island Marathon).  Lisa’s email response was simple – “You have tons of time to train and accomplish your dreams and goals!”  I would train under Lisa’s guidance for 4 years, including our first Badwater Ultramarathon finish in 2009.
·       Jacki Adams-Florine.  It is extremely important, for a variety of reasons, to participate in the Badwater Ultramarathon as a crewmember prior to applying to participate as a runner.  Jacki’s graciousness in inviting me to be on her 2008 crew was a catalyst that sparked the past 4 years of participation in this amazing event as a runner.  The amount of gratitude that I owe Jacki and her family is boundless.
·       Chris Kostman, AdventureCorps, the entire Badwater Race Staff and those in the Death Valley area providing local support for the event.  Events like the Badwater Ultramarathon don’t “just happen.”  They are the result of innumerable efforts of those that are highly dedicated to the production and preservation of the event.  Their dedication and devotion to providing a safe experience that fosters not only competition, but also internal reflection and growth, is outstanding.  Without them, there is no Badwater Ultramarathon.
·       Crewmembers of the Past (2009: Jenifer Vogel, Lane Vogel, Brian Krogmann, Wayne Bates and Jeff Tropple; 2010: Chris Roman, Eddie Murphy, Meredith Murphy, Steve Tursi, Eric Gelber and Herb Carroll; 2011: Jason Overbaugh, Chuck Mathison and Eric Gelber).   The runner’s crew is by far her/her lifeline.  Without a crew it is impossible to complete the Badwater Journey.  The experiences that I have had with each and every crew member from our 2009, 2010 and 2011 Badwater crossings have served to shape and influenced, in some way, each ensuing Badwater Ultramarathon experience.
·       My 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon Crew (Jason Overbaugh, Danielle Grabol, Wayne Bates, Ginette, Julia and Allison).  I do not run the Badwater Ultramarathon, WE do.  I do not cross the finish line at Whitney Portal, WE do. This was truly an amazing crew.  From start to finish operated to perfection.  We ran and we walked.  We laughed and we cried.  We struggled and we overcame.  In the end, we collectively succeeded.  They were simply amazing! 
·       My Friends, Heroes and Legends of Ultrarunning.  The ultra distance world’s support system is astonishing.  It doesn’t matter what level a runner they are, the general willingness to provide guidance to others is mind-blowing.  Since my first 100-miler in September of 2007, there have been so many people (most of which have become good friends) that have had a profound impact on my experiences in ultrarunning (both directly and inspirationally), and listing all of them would be near impossible.  But there are a few to mention – Lisa Smith-Batchen, Lisa Bliss, Marshall Ulrich, Art Webb, Dean Karnazes, Ray Zahab, Jamie Donaldson, Meredith Terranova, Bryon Powell, Dave James, Chris Roman, Jarom Thurston, Mario and Eliana Lacerda, Frank McKinney, Al Arnold, Jack Denness, Ben and Denise Jones, Shannon Farar-Griefer, Jonathan Gunderson, Ferg Hawke, Brian Recore, Cheryl Zwarkowski, Iris Cooper Imhof, every one of my closest of ultrarunning friends… - this list can go on for pages and pages, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll end with each and every person that has been so tremendously supportive over the years (you know who you are).
·       All of the Badwater Ultramarathon Runners & Their Crews.  The experience “out there” is very much molded by interactions – with the environment, the race staff, the runners, and crews.  We can, of course, opt to thank the environment (the heat, the dust, the endless road and climb, the dangerous switchbacks…) for beating us to a pulp along the way.  But, it would be far better to thank all 96 participants in the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon and their respective crews for making the experience safe and memorable.
·       My Family.  Words cannot possibly do justice.
·       The Challenged Athletes Foundation, Impossible to Possible, and everyone that contributed to our fundraising efforts.
·       Everyone else that I may have forgotten to mention.  My apologies for not directly identifying you, but many thanks for all you have done.
Coming Soon – “Our Best Journey Yet: Race Report: 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon”


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