The air cooled with each step as the runners rose up Townes Pass. The stars were uninterrupted and tremendous, drawing the runners’ eyes up to shooting stars and the Milky Way. As crew vans drove from shoulder to shoulder, the runners walked and jogged their way out of the hellish desert. Here are a few comments from some of them as we passed, took their photos and said hello (with a few updates on runners further back down the road):
Curt Maples (#13), who ran his own Baghdad Badwater last year while stationed in Iraq, had some stomach problems early in the race; he didn’t leave Furnace Creek until 5pm. It is unclear whether he is still planning to finish.
Arthur Webb (#7) was surprisingly peppy as we rode up and shouted hello on Townes Pass. His enthusiasm seemed to have blossomed since the beginning of the race: “My mood always improves as I get closer to the finish line.” Arthur then waved his arms around in an impromptu jog/dance.
Jody-Lynn Reicher (#9) had had a rough time in Death Valley, and had made her way into the pool at Stovepipe Wells. (See photo.) But once she got in, she said, her body temperature fell rapidly. She stayed with the medical crew at Stove Pipe Wells for a few hours, but was back on track by the time we caught up with her at Townes Pass, where she plowed forward to make up for lost time.
We met Monica Scholz (#3) a little beyond Townes Pass. She wasn’t hitting her typical pace, but remained undauntedapparently, she had an ulterior motive for entering Badwater this year: “I didn’t think I had a better Badwater in me than last year. I came because of the Furnace 508I want to try for the Death Valley Cup again. Even though I’ll lose some time on this race, I’ll gain some time on the bike.” Monica will be shooting for the best combined time between the two races in a single year.
Pam Reed’s (#4) stride is recognizable a mile awaywe caught up with her right before Darwin, in her almost tiptoeing, incredibly steady pace. She was pushing up against Charlie Engle, who jogged a few minutes ahead of her in the darkness, and she was relieved to hear that she had a strong lead among this year’s female runners.
We ran into Adalberto Mendosa (#14) as he jogged alone and totally isolated through the Argus Range in the dark, somewhere around Darwin. He was stoic and way ahead of most of the pack, despite his 10 a.m. start.
Charlie Engle (#43) was another loner up in the mountains. He runs with no pacers because, as he put it, “none of them can keep up with me.”
Mike Sweeney (#52) was in good spirits up at Darwin, having led the race for a full 80 mileseven though that stint was now over. As Charlie Engle neared the Darwin time station, his red lights bobbing in the distance, Mike received treatment from the Darwin medical crew, who were concerned about his hyponatremia. He got up after about an hour, weighed himself, and headed to his car to get dressed, full of smiles and praise for the race. In his enthusiasm, he seemed unbothered by Charlie, who went by as Mike retied his shoes.
Ferg Hawke (#4) and Scott Jurek (#100) were too busy chasing each other to comment on the race. Though they were neck and neck at Darwin, Jurek must have tapped into some energy reserve, and took off down the hill toward Lone Pine. Trailed by T.V. crews, he ran steadily toward Mt. Whitney as the sun rose. Hawke, about 34 minutes behind Jurek at 5:30am, seemed to have settled into a steady walk-run.
These comments compiled at 7:45am from the webcast room in Lone Pine. Scott Jurek just zoomed past our window.