Badwater 2001 Double Story

I won’t make this long as I don’t have a choice because, slowly but surely it is all coming back to me. I started with the 6 AM Badwater runners. As I was driving to the race, the crew van had a flat tire. The only thing I could do then was to hitch-hike with my one hand-held bottle. I knew that this was just one of my little hurtles with the race. Marshall Ulrich’s crew picked me up and brought me to the start. Anne Langstaff offered to share her crew with me until my crew fixed the flat. I knew I could not stay with her. She is just way too fast. I bummed water from whomever I saw. Soon my crew came and I felt a sense of security. I had Denise Jones, Kari Marchant, my masseuse Michelle Gardner. I couldn’t ask for a better team. My family including my husband, Alan, my two boys, Maurice and Ben, my mother, Jackie, and my sister, Beth, arrived for the mid-performance. I will never forget them for their love and support through this journey.

What a beautiful day, not as hot as expected, and I couldn’t believe it, I was finally here, after training for a year, sacrificing family obligations, sauna training and the obsession with the race. Jay Grobeson picked me up at Furnace Creek (17 miles) and slowed me down a bit. His experience and company were main factors for my success with the race. I felt so safe with him. I knew he would look out for my best interest. I reached the finish at the Portals (135 miles) in 51:41:47. To run through the tape with my family, I couldn’t ask for more in my life than this. I could only compare this to giving birth to triplets. I had other plans. This was the delivery of my first (born) my second (delivery) is to summit the mountain. Between these times, I wanted to participate in the post-race dinner and be a part of this event of the race. I felt we were all a team. My next attempt could wait a few hours. At 2 AM Saturday, I started my summit quest. What an amazing sunrise happened. I will never forget it. Although I was hoping to be on the top at the time of the sunrise, we caught it half way up. The summit of Whitney (146 miles) was reached in 78:30. Coming down from the mountain, my body finally felt the fatigue. At this point I had less than 3 hours sleep since the start of the race. I couldn’t recognize my crew. I started to feel weak and I slipped on a rock. This was a concern, I felt. My family was at the bottom of the mountain. I so badly needed to see their faces and kiss my family. I felt safe again. I had just delivered my second (born) and my third (delivery) was about to happen. I just needed to be with my family and have a few hours of sleep. I went back to the hotel. I think I ate dinner, but I can’t remember if I did. I fell asleep with my son Ben in my arms. I awakened to attempt the return. My crew took me back to the Portals (146 + 13 miles), where I left off the day before. Badwater was my next destination (third delivery) at 292 rounded off to 300 miles.

I knew this would be more difficult as I was beyond fatigue. There was no entertainment with the race and other runners. It was just I and my crew on this fantastic journey. I had bad stomach problems coming down from the Portals. Not much wanted to stay down. By the time I reached Keeler (146 + 36 miles), my crew called for an IV. The IV solutions arrived. Dr Ben Jones thought my crew needed it more than I did. I was happy that I was able to do this without IV’s. I could eat and keep food down. I just kept with the ultra shuffle. The nighttime was hard for me. I wanted to be home with my family, however I had Kari call her husband, Phil, to come run with me. He had left the racecourse and had been working all day in Bishop. He came with his son, Richard, a 13-year old, who has the desire to be the youngest Badwater competitor in the future. I know he can do this. He was so amazing with me. I needed their bodies next to me so badly. I began to feel safe.

I never thought I would be so excited to see Panamint Springs (146 + 74 miles) the next day. I had all my other landmarks, but I had to chop this up into little goals. At Stovepipe Wells Village (146 + 95 miles), I found a phone booth and called my son, Maurice. When I heard his voice, I couldn’t stop crying. He told me to go on, that he loved me, and that I can do it. Denise re-taped my feet in the public gas station bathroom as I ate a burrito. A far cry from my Calabasas lifestyle, but so is lying on the middle of the asphalt at 4 AM.

As I left Stovepipe Wells, the headwinds were fierce with the heat blowing into my face. I just broke down at this point, but the shuffle kept me moving. The icepacks on my right shin kept the pain down to a mild ouch. I had Chris Moon, a double amputee, just ahead of me. He was doing his second double, this time with a new prosthesis. I knew he was feeling the same. He gave my crew words to give me to keep moving. He was my inspiration along with my charity. I know that the children for whom I run are still in pain. [Today as I write this, I am home trying to get my life back to normal, they are not, and they might not]. I can’t quit or give up. I wouldn’t want the children with cancer to give up, so this kept me moving. My crew was so committed. I still can’t believe the love that they have given me during these days.

As I turned the corner to see the Badwater sign, this was the delivery of my third (born). I could not feel any emotion. Although I was told it was a triumphant finish, I felt as if I had to detach myself from the pain. This left me emotionless. It was 180:15:15-hours later. I had done it. I did the “double” with Badwater. I had the best crew. I never thought the body and mind could do this. I proved myself wrong. I will always have the greatest respect for the desert, for Jay, Denise and Ben Jones, Kari, Phil, Ashley and Richard Marchant, Luke and Alexis, Scott, Michelle, George Velasco and June, and all those who kept me moving, Chris Moon, Marshall Ulrich, Chris Kostman, Mary Campilongo, Art Webb, Steve Silver, Blade and his elephant sandwich theory, my family, and all of the Badwater runners, because we share a special bond. I don’t know if this makes sense, but I’m still a little whacked out. When I wake up in the morning, I have to think, “Am I making breakfast for my kids, or am I running to Darwin?” Each day gets better. The memories are coming back and are fresher than ever. I just wanted to post this, as I want to share my experience. This race has changed my life. It was more of a journey for me on personal growth. It validates the beauty of the sport and the camaraderie and just knowing how powerful we are as human beings. My time might not be one to be admired, but I’ve never been about that. The destination was almost sad for me, as I wanted to sit down before I reached the finish. In a way I didn’t want it to end. The journey was the best, not the finish, yeah … I say that now.

Shannon Farar-Griefer

PS: I would like to conclude by recognizing for their support and Slim-Fast for providing me with the proper fuel to get me through the 300 miles and New Balance for putting the perfect shoes on my feet to keep me moving.