Hawke Flies through Panamint
By Steve Matsuda
Ferg Hawke was the first runner through Panamint Springs, on Monday evening. Hawke, a 46 year-old Canadian, arrived at the 72.3 mile mark of the course in 12:38, over two hours ahead the next runner, Jim Scott of Chico, California. Both Hawke and Scott were in the 8:00 start group. The third runner to reach Panamint was Dean Karnazes, though because he started two hours later than the others, Karnazes was actually in 2nd place, about 48 minutes behind Hawke. The fourth to reach Panamint was another 8:00 starter, Angel Perez, followed by defending champion Pam Reed. Hawke, Scott and Perez are all Badwater rookies. Of the first five through Panamint, only Scott stopped for food and TLC from his crew.
In 2002, Hawke placed 8th overall in the Marathon des Sables, the first ever top 10 finish by a North American. He also trained specifically for Badwater, visiting Death Valley for over a week for some torturous training runs. He’s even built a Solarium in his house to give him easy access to a “heat room”.
Scott has finished Western States twelve times, each under 24 hours. He thanks his crew for getting him though the hottest section on the course before Stovepipe Wells. They kept dumping water on him, making him feel like he was taking a shower all day. Scott’s plan is simple, to go as fast as he can to the Whitney Portal.
Perez has a two-person crew, husband and wife ultrarunners Jorge Pacheco and Maria Lemus. Both are accomplished runners, with Jorge having won nearly two dozen ultras, including Angeles Crest twice.
Karnazes and Reed sped through the timed station at Panamint. Christopher Bergland, a Kiehl’s employee and one of the pre-race favorites, suffered from severe muscle spasms in his legs, forcing him to drop out of the race at Townes Pass. He still stayed to cheer Karnazes and the other top runners at Panamint. Bergland said he felt great for the first 20 miles, but his problems came out of nowhere. This is his first DNF but he decided that rather than push himself to perhaps some serious medical problems, he’d use it as a learning experience and wanted to be there to encourage his friends.