Name: Robert D. Johnson
City: Grand Rapids
State: Michigan
Country: United States

Nationality: American
Occupation: Self Employed Marketing Consultant
Birthday: 12/10/60
Age: 40
T-Shirt: Extra Large

Number of Years Running: 5
Number of Marathons: 9, + 6 Ultras


50k-Swan Creek Crawl, July 1998 Allegan, Michigan, 50K, 5 Hours, 50 Minutes
HUFF, December 1999, Huntington, Indiana, 50K, 5 Hours 30 Minutes

50mi-Dances With Dirt, September 1999, Hell, Michigan, 50 Miles, 9 Hours 50 Minutes
North Country Trail Run, September 2000, Manistee, Michigan, 50 Miles, 9 Hours 30 Minutes


100mi-Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Endurance Run, June 1999, Eagle, Wisconsin, 100 Miles, 27 Hours

100mi+-Marathon des Sables, April 2000, The Sahara Desert, Morocco, Africa, 150 Miles (7 Days), 47 Hours

Previous Badwater Racing: None
Previous Badwater Crewing: None
Previous Badwater Clinic None

Best Ultra Run Experience:

Marathon des Sables and Swan Creek Crawl. I'm actually torn between which has been my best experience in an ultra. The Swan Creek Crawl 50K in July of 1998 stands out because it was my first ultra. It convinced me that I could not only do it, but do it without breaking down too much at all. The Marathon des Sables in April of 2000 proved to me that I believe there is no distance I cannot run. Seven days in The Sahara Desert was quite an experience, and I believe I survived it better than most of the competitors, especially judging from everyone's feet.

Weird Experience:

This has to be standing out in the middle of The Sahara Desert, April of 2000, with no one around at 3:00 in the morning, and no flashlight (mine had broken and the moon had already set). It was the most peaceful experience I had ever had. You literally struggle to hear any noise at all, then you realize that there is nothing out there to make any noise. The only thing you can hear is your breath. It reminds you how small you really are in the entire scheme of things.


The Marathon des Sables of April 2000. For seven days you have to get up and answer the bell. Many people wanted to quit, and many did. Many people complained and whined. Many people cried. I just kept my focus and completed what I had gone there to do. Finish it. I'm not going to say the challenge wasn't there, it was. But, I'm not one to complain. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and realize that I'm that much closer to the finish line. I finish every race I start. There are no other options.


For me it is an opportunity to experience the true potential of the human spirit. I believe the human spirit has no limits whatsoever. People can do most of what they set out to do. Its just that people do not tend to challenge themselves to this level. The other reason is for my mother. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the mid 80's, and I have finally found something my community can rally around to raise funds and awareness for a cure for this horrible disease.

Why badwater:

For a couple of reasons. I want to continue to raise the challenges I impose upon myself. Lisa Smith, Jay Batchen, and Cathy Tibbetts have all told me that your race is more difficult than The Marathon des Sables. I want to experience this level of difficulty for myself. Also, it provides me with an opportunity to continue my quest for a cure for Parkinson's disease. My whole community is supporting these challenges, and the cause. With Badwater, I'll attempt to take my efforts to a national level.

Other Exp.:

Michigan Bush Bash 2000. 120 miles of multi disciplines through the undeveloped land of Michigan's Upper Penninsula. Running/trekking, canoeing, mountain biking, repelling, kayaking, and navigating/orienteering.


Yes. Local Grand Rapids newspapers, radio stations, and television stations.

More Media:

Possibly the main local newspaper


Yes. I am running to raise money to fight Parkinson's disease, due to my mother's afflication. See for more info!

English: yes
Crew English: yes
Hike: yes
Permit: yes


June 1997, Anchorage, Alaska Marathon
October 1997, Chicago Marathon
February 1998, St. Louis Marathon
July 1998, Swan Creek Crawl 50K
October 1998, Chicago Marathon
April 1999, Pinkney Trail Marathon
June 1999, Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Endurance Run
June 1999, Anchorage, Alaska Marathon
September 1999, Dances With Dirt 50 Miler
October 1999, Chicago Marathon
December 1999, HUFF 50K
April 2000, Marathon des Sables
August 2000, part of a world record set by Jim Dreyer, where he ran an official full marathon distance, which I ran with him, after swimming 20 hours across Lake Erie
September 2000, part of a world record set by Jim Dreyer, where he ran an official full marathon distance, which I ran with him, followed by a 130 mile bike ride, followed by swimming across Lake Ontario into Toronto, touching ground, then turning around and swimming back, taking over 48 hours continuous
September 2000, North Country Trail 50 Miler