Louise Cooper - Up Close

By Greg Minter

Sitting in a chair at race headqauarters, Louise Cooper, a petite blond powerhouse had her feet propped up to help reduce the swelling. "I've got a little bit of a heat rash on my legs, too," she says. The telltale red bumps indicate just how hot the last day and a half had been.

"Last night, I got out of the shower and I was actually shivering...when you spend all day in 130 degree heat, sitting in an 80 degree room feels cold. And I had nobody to snuggle with in the room!"

Louise is a teacher at Heschel West (a private elementary school) in Agoura. "My poor students...the air conditioning broke and my kids were dying, and all I could think was 'Great, I get to heat condition at school.' They'd turn in their papers with sweat all over them. The custodian would come in to fix it, and I'd say 'No rush, don't worry.'"

"I first heard about the race through Lisa Smith in 1999...I was going through chemo for breast cancer, and she told me I'd be done in time to start training for Badwater. I was brain dead and said "Oh, ok." Five months after the chemo & radiation therapy, she completed the race. "My doctors were happy to have me back to a point where I could run. I was still undergoing weekly IVs of Herceptin, to keep my type of cancer from recurring.

"Runner coming!" someone yells from outside the room. "It's Lisa Smith!" She excuses herself and hops out of the chair to go wave to her friend who has reached Lone Pine early on the morning of the third day.

When she sits down, she relates her experience. "In 1999, I did the Memorial Day clinic, and had my first experience with hypernatremia. I got out of the shower and started to spasm on the floor. I had to be taken by ambulance to Pahrump, where I was airflifted to the hospital. All I could think about while I was lying there in bed was trying I tried to get someone to talk to me to tell what I did wrong. Since then I learned to pay attention to my electrolytes. However, I did come back and do the race. That was the year they did the film running on the sun. If you watch the credits at the end, I'm one of the two runners shown in silhouette going down the road."

So now in 2003, she decided to come back with only a short period of training.

"The first time I signed up because I was intrigued...I had wanted to try several times before but had conflicts with my adventure races. I've done all the Eco Challenges except morocco (when I was doing chemo), several Raid Gauloises, the Extreme Games, and Primal Quest. The problem had always been my schedule."

Louise ran to raise money for pediatric cancer research, which is allied with Children's Hospital. She has also raised money for the Johnson Cancer Center. "I especially want to thank Megan, who gave me lots of inspiration this year. Having been through the chemo, you know what they're experiencing...the discomfort."

"You can't do this without a great crew, and mine were great: Harry Pantelas and his daughter Georgene, Jeff White, Bill Maniscolco, Marcia Rasmussen, and Kelly Knowles...and Craig Chambers and Kathy Kusner came out to do the "death march" coming in to Lone Pine."

"And finally, a thanks my sponsors Pharminex, Railriders, Wrightenberry Wright Socks.