Badwater 1999: What Worked/Didn't Work For Me

By Scott Weber, Badwater Finisher: '94, '95, '96, '97, '98, '99, '00, and '01

Here's what worked for me at this year's 1999 Hi-Tec Badwater race

  1. Compeed secured by Elatikon tape at the forefoot. Stayed in place throughout the race; no blistering.
  2. Compeed 'mini-strips' wrapped around 'little' toes.
  3. Anklet nylons overlayered with super thin sock liners. 'Double Layering' with little or no moisture absorption.
  4. Custom insoles (low volume/full length) molded by Russ Bollig of the 'Podium' in Boulder, CO. Eliminated 'shearing' and resultant blistering caused by my over-pronation on the right side.
  5. New Balance 1200 shoes. Most comfortable, least problematic shoe I've worn at Badwater. Worn them 'out of the box'. I did cut a hole for my right little toe at mile 72. Tread was completely burned off by mile 135, but that is usual for most footwear I've used at Badwater.
  6. 'Dri-fit' Nike baggy running shorts (without brief). Added bike shorts with chamois insert later in race.
  7. Solumbra long sleeve running shirt by Sun Precautions. Very comfortable. Wore it 'out of the box'. The special sun protection aspect of the fabric was excellent: no burning even though the shirt was often wet (wetting cotton reduces it SPF rating, but Solumbra's sun-protective qualities are not affected by water). Very pliable fabric...no chafing.
  8. Aussie style 'cowboy' hat with brim. (Sorry Aussies and Cowboys...I know I'm hopelessly insulting both groups with my poor command of 'hat terminology'). First time I've used this style. I liked the large volume of 'open space above the head and the flow through ventilation. It allowed for more ice to be dumped in and quicker melting. Plus made me feel very 'adventuresome'. I did use my standard desert hat for parts of the race.
  9. Black Diamond (Chouinard) climbing pants for Whitney. Heavier, more bombproof, warmer fabric than 'tights'. Allows more comfortable bouts of whimpering while laying on, beside, under the granite on the Whitney climb. Nothing worse than a cold ass or sharp edges to distract one from their internal misery.
  10. Montrails Vitesse for the mountain. Removed the sock liner and did not use my insoles to give my swollen feet some extra room. Nice grip on the granite.
  11. Blackburn Pack with wide mouth-screw down lid bladder system with spring loaded valve. Have used Blackburn equipment the last several years. Lightweight/bombproof/the 'bells and whistles' you **need** (stretch cord to secure jacket etc.)/no fluff equipment. The spring loaded valve beats anything on the market.
  12. Patagonia mid-weight capilene zip-T long sleeve shirt for the mountain. This is the most versatile shirt I've ever owned. Light weight/super comfortable/warm!
  13. Patagonia 'Pneumatic' Pullover Jacket for the mountain. Still waiting for the perfect jacket that is lightweight/breathable yet can handle a downpour.
  14. 1999 Suburban LS 4 Door 4WD. Huge and comfy. Air conditioning system was the only one that has ever worked effectively for my crew in the race. 4WD is a great safety feature for extracting the vehicle from the 'soft shoulders' near the dunes at Stovepipe Wells. Mini-vans no more!
  15. Orange Cytomax. Standard 'per the label' concentration. Approximately one quart (32 ounces) per hour during the heat of the day; 20 ounces per hour at night. Supplemented with plenty of icy cold water almost every mile.
  16. 1/4 teaspoon of regular table salt per hour mixed into the Cytomax. NO stomach problems.
  17. Tapioca Pudding; bananas; Pringles; Campbell's 'Double-Noodle' Chicken Soup (straight from the can); Hamburgers; Scrambled Eggs-Hash Browns-Bacon slathered with extra salt, ketchup and Tabasco Sauce.
  18. Bloody Mary Style Tomato Juice. Mr. and Mrs.. T's Brand has a whopping 2070 mg. of sodium in a 12 ounce can. That will bring you back from sodium depletion in nothing flat! It will kill you in 'regular life'.
  19. My crew: Theresa (my wife) and Rick Nawrocki ('Story of a Champion'). They worked in sync and constantly provided the support I required to make the journey from 'lowest to highest'. In the 92 hours of pre-race and race activity, they got less than 10 hours of total sleep. Despite this, they remained vigilant and responsive. Super people.
  20. The camaraderie and support from my fellow racers and their crews. Badwater is an extraordinary race that attracts extraordinary people (like all ultras). The collective energy/support/understanding/enthusiasm is why I return to Badwater year after year.

What didn't work

  1. Reliance on training done 10 years ago. I'm thinking about hiring myself to get me back into shape!
  2. Ensure. Usually has worked for me. This time made me instantly nauseous when I tried it at mile 115 or so.
  3. Coca Cola. I usually drink lots on the racecourse. I got that unpleasant 'this is going to make me sick' feeling when I tried to use it too often this year.