Stay Focused

Hello all you crazy people:) I wish I were running with you. But, as Chris knows, I’m too old and toooooooooo slow!! Simply put: I miss being able to disappear into the shadows of solitude which graced the landscapes that engulfed my legs. They sure wandered during those endless miles of long slow trekking: mind and body, as one. But, always focused on “Death Valley Days” – a very powerful motivation that loomed significantly in the abyss of my mind and eventually to Badwater.

Twice I failed! In 1974 I almost killed my running partner, Dave Gabor. He collapsed at Furnace Creek. I continued on to ‘The Oasis’ when I stopped. I couldn’t stop worrying about his safety. I lost my focus. It was over. It took him a year to recover. By the way, the temperature at Stovepipe Wells was 121 F – AT MIDNIGHT! The mid-70’s were drought years. Just perfect to challenge the desert at its worst. Yes, I’m still alive:) David’s collapse was because of an intolerance to heat. I failed because I couldn’t stay focused. My second attempt was in 1975. Everything was fine until Towne Pass, at which point my left knee would not support downhill running. On my way to Stovepipe Wells I had gotten cute and tried running across Devil’s Golf Course. The crust couldn’t support my 225 pounds and so I hyper-extended my left knee. Again, I lost focus.

So my friends, old and new: Stay focused AND within your God-given capacity. There will always be “the back-of-the-pack.” There is no shame in that. You’re here because your guru, Chris Kostman, has decided to see just how tough you are. The new cut-off time of 48 hours tells me that Chris will expect only a stellar performance from each of you. Considering that, every team-participant has been a part of each runner’s total effort with the over-all logistics of the training/financial process. With this commitment behind you, then it’s time for NO DNF’s:) The formula, for all this is very simple: exercise PRUDENCE and don’t lose focus. 🙂

This “Adventure” into the bowels of Death Valley and beyond has many strange love attractions. So, as Cole Porter wrote, in 1929: “What Is This Thing Called Love?” The Badwater Ultramarathon is our alluring “love affair.” It has no competition. Each year we are drawn from all corners of our ever-changing world, for one purpose: competing in the World’s Toughest Foot Race. That being the case: Why is it so difficult to participate without any DNF’s? Each Ultra Athlete accepted into the race was required to submitted their “Ultra History” and yet the personal carnage still exists. Failure to follow common sense, while being swept up in the hype of the event, results in poor judgment of focus. This is no picnic: people die in the desert!!! The forty-eight hour cut-off is in line with he purpose of this year’s Badwater Ultramarathon. Serious Ultra competitors have progressed their athleticism, from the “Covered Wagon” to the levels of unimaginable performances: The Boston Marathon’s almost sub two hours, Badwater 135 with multi sub-24 hour finishs AND, Ten-Time Badwater finishers. It’s almost too fantastic to believe. Yet, in spite of the advance of training and sheer mind-power, failure still exists. This year’s Badwater will have the higher race demands than in previous events. So, why would you wish to quit? Do you train to fail, or is it that you have forgotten the power of being focused on the reason why you’re here? The excitement and emotion of the fanfare of the race can work for, as well as against, you. So, my fellow Ultras, please set reasonable and achievable goals while you’re on the course. Pre-race strategies are too often forgotten, especially so, once the action begins. And, of course, there will always be those amazing ten-time finishers who will make it look so smooth and easy. What can I say?

Here’s quote from one of the world’s greatest scientists and humanitarians: “Impossible missions are usually those that succeed.” -Jacques Cousteau

Have a great Adventure!