Passing Darwin in the Night
Tracy Fawns (Tuesday, July 12, 2005)
During the night the rigors of the race caught up to Mike Sweeney. He was suffering from a bit of hyponatremia and pulmonary edema and had to take 90 minutes out to be evaluated and treated by the medical team at Darwin. In hyponatremia, the body becomes dangerously low in sodium. It’s caused when you literally take in too much water, which can happen even in 119-degree weather. The right amount of hydration/fluid intake is of utmost concern and many racers have not finished Badwater due to extreme hydration problems. The scary part of hyponatremia is that the symptoms mimic the same symptoms of dehydration. Thus, it can seem as if more hydration is necessary which conflicts with hyponatremia and puts the runner at risk. Fortunately, Mike was able to continue on and is having a great race this afternoon.
Further back on the course from Sweeney is #26, Nikki Seger, a fly fishing instructor from Chicago. She was looking a bit tired, yet pulling up the long climb with an attitude of motivation and desire. As I caught up with Nikki later in the afternoon, she was looking stronger and racing harder; the finish line is in sight.
Dr. Holger Finkernagel is also looking fit and motivated to get to the finish line. At 62 and from Germany, he is a veteran of the Badwater race and in great spirits as he reached the Darwin time station. He saw a fellow German racer and rushed up for a big bear hug, smiling and sounding excited as the two Germans met and shared a few moments together. He is back to reclaim his race from last year, which ended up in a DNF. He is well on his way to prove himself this year.
Behind Holger is Dan Jensen, a runner whose artificial leg does not turn into an excuse to be inactive or even settle for the mundane. As one of the fittest ultra marathon runners in this race, he is really something to watch.
I will move down the course and interview more racers and their crews now. I look forward to hearing how everyone’s night went and to see how each racer is using the finish line as a carrot to move on and to continue enduring this brutal course.