1999 Badwater Reflections

Age 68, 1999 finisher

As usual, I am a wee bit late with a Badwater story. But I’ve been busy. After Badwater, I went almost immediately back east for over two weeks and then to Leadville for over two weeks. At Leadville I helped with the bike race and with the LT-100. Saw Adam and Denise at the start but never saw them afterwards. I crewed for two people. First one was Ron Vertrees from Vallejo and he dropped out at 60 miles. So then I ran/walked the last 23 miles with Lee Schmidt from Napa. My first time at Leadville in a crew capacity instead of a runner. Crewing is damn hard—I think I’d rather run.

Badwater was a tremendous experience for me this year. I had injured my back early in the year so that AR50 in April was my last run greater than 10 miles. I virtually stopped running in April and all I did from then on until Badwater was walk and the farthest I walked was generally 10 miles with one walk of 20 miles. Most of the time I was taking short daily walks like four miles. Most of my friends and family thought I was crazy to do Badwater with so little training and with a ruptured disk in my back. Since I was already entered into Badwater my intent was to start and walk as far as I could. Turned out to be 135 miles. I think that I only ran about 15 miles total and that was when the camera crews were near. I walked all the rest. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. Who am I kidding. It took me over 53 hours. I had only about one hour of sleep the whole time and my feet starting blistering at 35 miles. Thanks to Mike Paradise, who played doctor with my feet repeatedly, I was able to hobble through, but man were my feet hurting. If I ever do Badwater again, I gotta figure out what to do with my feet.

Hallucinations: I can’t believe the things I saw. I wrote to Dr. Barbara (Warren) and told her all about them. They were very similar to the ones I saw in ’98. Mostly buildings, bridges, and geometric shapes. Also I saw green woolly worms. At one point this year I needed to fix a shoe and I didn’t want to sit on the ground so I started to think about sitting on a post, or bench, in front of the buildings that I was constantly seeing. But then I remembered that hallucinations don’t make good seats. Also, during the second night, a policeman stopped and told me to look out for the snakes (?). I thought he said “snakes.” So the rest of the night I worried, and I saw snakes on several occasions. People keep asking why do I do these strange things. Well at my age, I have more past than I have future. And the past is made up of memories. More memories can be built up at one Badwater event than are built up in several months of the other normal sometimes mundane stuff that we do. So, I think that’s why I like Badwater—it provides a burst of memories. Memories such as running down the road in the middle of the night with Chris Moon (amputee) discussing blisters. I argued that I had more than he did. What an inspiration he was. I might have given up if it hadn’t been for Chris.

I hate to say this but I feel it coming on again. I know that I will want to do Badwater again. When I finished last year (1998), I said never again. When I finished this year, I said never again. What’s wrong with me? Is this a form of Purgatory? Am I condemned to run forever through the desert heat due to something bad that I did in my past life?