Name: Ian Parker
City: Irvine
State: CA
Country: USA

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Nationality: United Kingdom
Occupation: Professor
Birthday: 01/06/1951
Age: 51
T-Shirt: large
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Number of Years Running: 18
Number of Marathons: 22

Distances:

50k-San Juan Trail 50K. Cleveland National Forest., CA. 1993, 94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01 best time 6:20.

Holcolm Valley 50K/33 mile Big Bear , CA 1998, 1999, 2001 best time 5:37

Fat Ass 50, Maryland version. 1996 5:05.

Baldy Peaks 50K. Mt. Baldy, Angeles National Forest. 1994, 97, 98. best time 9:49

Mule Run, 50K, Sierra foothills, CA. 1997. 7:40.

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50mi-San Juan Trail 50 M. Cleveland National Forest., CA. 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998. best time 11:32

Mountain Masochist 50+M, Blue Ridge mountains. 1995. 10:43

JFK 50 M. Maryland 1995 10:05

Grand Canyon Double Crossing. Unsupported, solo runs. Thirteen times total from 1994 to 2001. Best time 13:47

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100km-Helen Klein (USATF Championships) American River, CA. 1994 11:56

Catalina 100K Catalina Island, CA. 1999, 2000. best time 15.31

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100mi-Western States 100M. Sierra Nevada, CA. 1996, 1997. best time 29:31

Leadville Trail 100M. Colorado Rockies. 1997, 1999. best time 29:56 (!)

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100mi+-Trans-Maryland Run for the Homeless. 1995. 200M, 5-day stage race; road/dirt road/ Appalachian trail. Cumulative time 38:50. Fourth place finisher (6 starters).

Previous Badwater Racing: none
Previous Badwater Crewing: none
Previous Badwater Clinic none

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Badwater Prediction:

Likely between 50 and 60 hours. This guesstimate is based on my experience finishing (and missing cutoffs!) in 100 mile races. My overall pace is not fast, but I can generally keep on walking at around 3.5 mph for a long, long time.

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Weird Experience:

Here, I will stretch the definition of ultrarunning to include a multi-day ‘fastpack’ trip I made through the Scottish Highlands many years ago, as this featured the weirdest event of my life – an encounter with a Scottish ghost.

Some background to begin. Firstly, scattered at remote locations throughout the Highlands are primitive shelters – mountain bothies – which range from small huts to little more than walled-in caves. I planned to travel between these bothies, and thus carried only sleeping bag and food. Secondly, my journey took me through a remote pass, the Laraig Ghru, which is flanked by Ben MacDui, one of the highest peaks in the Cairngorm range. Ben MacDui is notoriously haunted by a ghostly figure, the Grey Man, whose existence is attested by many mountaineers who have seen him on the bleak, misty fellsides. Noteworthy among these is Sir Norman Collie - a pioneer of Himalayan exploration and eminent scientist credited with taking the first medical X-ray photograph – who was chased off the summit by the Grey Man.

My journey was made during the Easter vacation, in typical Scottish weather with rain, sleet and snow blowing horizontally in a mild gale. Well after dark I reached the Corrour bothy, on the lower slopes of Ben MacDui, after a long, cold and wet day. The bothy was quite palatial, as they go, consisting of a single-room stone hut, with a small lobby and separate outer and inner doors serving as an ‘airlock’ to stop snow blowing inside. I had the whole place to myself and, after cooking up a freeze-dried meal, I settled down to a comfortable night’s sleep. This was abruptly interrupted around 2:00 am, by a loud banging on the outer door. Thinking a late-arriving climber might be having trouble with the latch, I called out; but there was no reply. The outer door then flew open with a crash, and there was a sound as of heavy boots scraping the stone floor of the lobby. Again I called out; again there was no reply. Around this time I started to wonder whether my visitor might be of the ectoplasmic, rather than protoplasmic constitution but, since my flashlight lay on the table across the far side of the room, it was hard to muster the courage to scramble from my sleeping bag and find out. My heart rate shot up another notch as the inner door then banged open, and the footsteps crunched into the main room. A final, nervous call “er…, hello there,…it’s a wild night isn’t it…” met again with no response. Summoning courage I made a wild leap for the flashlight, even if that might involve colliding with (or passing through?) the ghostly figure. The glare of the flashlight showed the room exactly as it was when I had gone to sleep, and the sounds of footsteps had ceased abruptly when I first moved. Both doors were, however, ajar - but there was nothing and no one to be seen outside despite improving visibility after the storm, and there were no marks in the fresh snowfall beyond the doorstep...

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Challenge:

Leadville Trail, 1999, half a mile from the finish line.

Two years previously I had finished Leadville for the first time: with only four minutes to spare and in last place. The year before I missed the cut-off coming back through Twin Lakes. This year I came off the Boulevard, with about half a mile on road still to go and six minutes left on my watch to do it in. No way! I had been walking the last 40 miles, soaked from a thunderstorm, throwing up copiously, and accompanied in my hallucinations by Mickey Mouse (though I couldn’t figure out why he was doing Leadville). A 12-minute-mile pace seemed as unlikely an ambition as finishing Hardrock. But, my wife was there at the corner, shouting at me to get running, so I started a painful jog. That nearly died on the final uphills, but I dug down deep; kept reciting Ken’s credo from the pre-race meeting (“you can do more than you think you can..”), which sounds corny, but actually works, at least during ultras; and staggered across the line mere seconds before the hours digits on the clock changed from 29 to 30.

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Why:

My first sport was mountaineering, which was a passionate obsession for many years. But then I got married, kids came along and, given the increasing number of friends who went off to do climbs and never came back, that didn’t seem like a responsible idea anymore. To keep fit I started jogging, and went through the usual progression of 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and marathons. At that stage I was running mostly for the exercise, and big city races (London, LA marathons), with all their crowds and commercialism, didn’t really appeal. Then I discovered, quite by chance, the existence of a wonderful, small community of ultramarathoners, who did crazy things without thinking them to be crazy. I was hooked, and have stayed so for nearly 10 years now. Among the attractions of ultrarunning for me are the experience of covering vast distances through beautiful terrain; the companionship of fellow runners or, conversely the freedom and isolation of long solo runs; being able to do quite well by merely keeping up a good walking pace; and the endorphin high after finally stopping. Of course, I start questioning why I run ultras when the blister the forms the entire sole of my foot pops after the river crossing at 4 am, and when I can’t even make it out of the aid station before vomiting much needed fluids: but the good memories are the ones that stick.

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Why badwater:

Why do I want to race Badwater? Well, as will be obvious from my running bio, I don’t want to (or have any hope of) racing Badwater. What I really want to do is just try to finish it. Why?, I don’t really know. The challenge of attempting something outrageously difficult – even if completely useless – provides its own motivation; whether that be climbing 30ft of overhanging rock or covering 130 miles in searing heat. And, if you have to indulge in masochism, Death Valley is a beautiful place to do it. Badwater (the place), in August, was among my first impressions after immigrating to California from England, and since then I have returned many times to run the trail marathon, hike 11,000 vertical ft straight up into the Panamints, and scrape up the skid-plates on our truck on the backcountry 4WD trails.

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Other Exp.:

Rock climbing/mountaineering.

Climb to 5.11+ (USA), E4 (UK).
Multi-day ascents in Canada, U.S., Africa, U.K., France, Switzerland, Spain etc. including: N.W. face Half Dome; Lotus Flower Tower (Canadian North West Territories); first free ascent Scott-Braithwaite route Mt. Kenya; Diamond Couloir Direct, Mt. Kenya; 24-hour Winter ascent of U.K. 3-peaks (Scafell Pike, Snowdon, Ben Nevis) including solo of Zero Gully (grade V ice).

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Media:

no

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More Media:

no

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Charity:

Yes. Laurie Lynn House.

This is a non-profit organization established by my wife (a pediatric neurologist) to build a hospice for care of children with terminal neurological and metabolic diseases.

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English: yes
Crew English: yes
Hike: no
Permit: yes

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