Badwater Runners’ Report for the JustDo262 Yahoo Group

2003 staffer & 2002 finisher

The Runners’ Report did indeed spend part of last week in and around Lone Pine for the end of the Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon. I had hoped to be there for the whole race, working on the webcast, but that nasty four-letter word, “work”, got in the way. I was, however, able to leave after work on Wednesday and pulled into the parking lot of the Dow Villa at about 8:45 PM.

When I got there, the race was actually over. In fact, beating everyone, including the first wave of runners who started from Badwater at 6 AM Tuesday morning, was winner Pam Reed who had already crossed the finish line at the Whitney Portals at 2:26 PM on Wednesday afternoon. By the time I got there, four of the 73 starters had finished and 6 others had passed through Lone Pine and were on the Portal Road. Among those already on this last stretch to the finish were Louise Cooper and Bill Lockton who both ran phenomenal sub-40 hour times.

But that is not to say that there weren’t many more amazing feats to witness. I worked the Lone Pine aid station on Thursday, through the early morning hours and then again as the final runners passed through. I also helped Greg gather some info for his webcast duties. I’m sure that many of you were anxiously following the progress of the race through the webcast. Greg and the whole staff did an absolutely fantastic job this year. I can honestly say that those working at race headquarters got about the same amount of sleep as the weary runners and crews. Everyone associated with supporting this event were so passionate about their work and should be sincerely thanked for their efforts.

In between these volunteer stints, I got a couple of chances to see Nancy Shura making her way along the course. She looked strong on each occassion, except for a zombie-like stare she wore on the final arduous climb up to the finish. Nancy and her crew (Saundra, Wendy, Michele, Sandy, Mike, Larry, and Heather, with a final assist from Craig) did a fabulous job and she completed the course in 52:35.

One of the things I really enjoy are the first-person accounts of the race written by runners and crew members. I’ll spare you any more of my perceptions under the assumption that we’ll be reading more in the future from the participants. But I will add some miscellaneous notes about what I saw and heard at the race this year:

  • Temperatures on Tuesday were said to be absolutely miserable. The “official” weather service report was about 125F but most who were there would swear it was at least 130F.
  • A number of well-known Badwater veterans including Mayor Ben Jones, Major Curt Maples and the 2nd person to run from Badwater to Mt Whitney, Jay Birmingham had to drop out. Ben actually “staked-out” twice, leaving the course to try and cool down but eventually had to drop.
  • Race organizers provided a valuable service this year by adding several mobile “Medic” units who patrolled the course and provided essential emergency medical services. 40% of their services were provided to crew members, including one person who needed seven IVs. Deb Clum was one of these important medical professionals.
  • 46 of 73 starters finished (under 60 hours) and 30 buckled (under 48 hours).
  • Women placed 1st, 3rd, 5th and 9th overall (Pam Reed – 28:26, Monica Scholz – 33:41, Tracy Bahr – 35:16, Louise Cooper 39:22).
  • Don Lundell came through Lone Pine station (mile 122) at about 10 PM on Wednesday. Just 5 hours earlier, his girlfriend Gillian Robinson had arrived at Panamint Springs, some 50 miles behind. Don finish in 45:10 and Gillian finished in 58:38.
  • Lisa Smith-Batchen and Joe DeSena ran the Vermont 100 mile endurance run in around 24 hours on Saturday/Sunday, took a day off, then began Badwater on Tuesday. DeSena completed Badwater in 42 hours and might have run the fastest race split ever from Lone Pine to the finish at the Whitney Portal in 2 hours and 53 minutes. Lisa took a 12 hour rest in the middle of the race and still finished in 52 hours.
  • Barb Elia pulled a “Steve Matsuda” becoming the “crooked woman” for much of the last part of the race.
  • Dan Marinsik was told in May that he had a brain tumor. Against doctor’s orders and the urgings of his family, he told the doctors to postpone surgery until after the race. He completed his first Badwater attempt in 53:36.
  • Dean Karnazes, the 2nd overall finisher and men’s winner, was one of many early finishers to stop by the station at Lone Pine asking about locations of the runners still on the course so they could give them their excess food and drinks. Dean also holds the world record for the 200 mile run.

Miles and miles of congrats to everyone involve in the race this year… especially RD Chris Kostman who took a great event and has somehow managed to improve it every year.