Pre-Race Meeting Highlights, Keith Kostman / AdventureCORPS, 7/26/00
The biggest field ever of Badwater runners assembled today in Furnace Creek at the Visitor's Center Auditorium for a long respite from the 120 degree outside temperature. After checking in and receiving their goodies bags, drop flags, race number, t-shirts, and Sun Precautions hat, the meeting got underway. A lot of ground was covered with race director Chris Kostman handling the ceremonies. Badwater Mayor Ben Jones got things underway with words of wisdom for all the runners.
There were a few last minute no-shows, including Kieran Mathias, Mark Hartinger, and John Hoenigman. Two others are also apparently no-shows, but we won't know for sure til the morning. At least 69 athletes will begin the journey tomorrow morning.
Highlights: Angelika Castaneda received the Death Valley Cup for completing both Badwater and the Furnace Creek 508 Bicycle Race in the same year, 1999. Slovenian artist Bojan Frantar presented the two beautiful sundials that he personally crafted for the winning man and woman. Ranger Rods from Death Valley National Park and Sergeant Byerly from the California Highway Patrol welcomed all the runners and crew to their home turf. The American and Russian teams of three were introduced; they will compete in a race-within-a-race for $2,500 put up by the Russian team.
The staff of 20 folks behind the scenes who make this event happen were introduced. Besides Chris Kostman and Dana Prieto, who work on this race year-round, the staff includes Jeff Bell, Len Bertain, Scott Scheff, Lee Moore, Charles Giles, John Wiley, Phil Marchant, Keith Kostman, Karen Raby, Jeff Parker, Erich Pokorny, Sumner Christian, Howie Stern, Ben and Denise Jones, Dave Reese, and Steve Reese. Without them, this race would not go on.
The highlight of the meeting was getting all 69 runners on the stage for the group photo. It's truly a wonderful group of very talented athletes. Twelve countries are represented and more languages than that were in use at the meeting. Clearly everybody is very excited to be here for this very unique race.