Friday, July 19, 2013

Crewing Badwater Ultramarathon

10am and it went up to 122 that day
 With Pam Reed in Death Valley

 Dean Kanazares running
 I'm in there.
 Free swag

This Badwater Ultramarathon race was the craziest thing I've ever done. And I've done some crazy things. We were supposed to run in 2 mile increments. I did my first .5 miles and said I have to stop. We were supposed to run behind the famous Pam Reed and spray her down. I couldn't even keep up for .5 miles. I then went out on another .5 miles a little while later and threw up. Then I couldn't stop coughing. One girl did three 1-mile legs, threw up, got heat stroke, went to the medical tent for 12 hours and was put in a hotel for 2 days. She was out.

That left 5 of us and I was taken out of the running part. That left 3 people to run, plus a driver. The runners had to switch off every .75 miles. One lady couldn't get her heart to slow down. It was miserable. 122 degrees, 30 mph winds of just heat, plus sand. I had to cover up my face. It looked like Saudi Arabia. Everyone was wearing hats that covered their neck and ears. I was totally not prepared for that. So I put myself in charge of the nutrition. Every mile we got out and prepared her food and then stood at the side of the road to give it to her.

Pam Reed is a really famous runner and has won this thing. She's been on David Letterman, profiled on 60 minutes, wrote a book that I read a few years ago about this race, been on lots of mags. Everywhere we went, people wanted a photo with her. People kept stopping and asking how she's doing. We even had to find out where her competition was. We'd drive around looking for the nearest people and find out their times. That's not my racing experience.

At night, we ended up in the mountains climbing and I was able to join in pacing again. She was going much slower. I then did 3 miles with her at 6am and again at 12pm because her pace was much slower. We stopped every mile for all 135 miles. I got maybe 40 minutes of sleep total. She wanted me to tell her stories while I was pacing her to keep her mind off of the pain, so I told her all my bad dating stories.

The last leg of the race is an 8,500 foot climb of switchbacks up Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. She couldn't go more than 18-20 minute miles. I walked behind her for a mile and sprayed her. The crew didn't want me doing much, but I felt okay and wanted to do more, but they said no. I was kind of upset about that.

You could tell the lady was really in pain. She was just moaning and kept saying "I'm not a runner. I'm not an athlete. I have no feelings." I just kept saying "You're doing great. You're so amazing." That's all you can do. She was totally hitting a wall, but she finished. She was the second female finisher and was really disappointed with coming in second, but she did really well.

She needs a better crew. We just weren't strong enough for her. She needs top athletes who do 100 mile races all the time. She really needs men to pace her. She's so good she beat a lot of top men.

It was really rewarding, but the toughest conditions I've ever run in. I've never even been in conditions like that.