The weekend in Death Valley was fantastic. Nothing can be more invigorating than a good race in the desert and time spent looking at rocks. Death Valley is both desolate and beautiful. The race was a good race.
Paul had the good idea of thinking of only running the 30K instead of the marathon so I asked the organizers to switch us to the 30K. It was a smart idea!
The race was in Death Valley but did not go through Titus Canyon as initially planned. Rocks had fallen in the Canyon and were not going to be cleared for weeks. The race course was remapped and we had an out and back kind of course. The course was mostly flat (luckily!). The temperature was manageable ie it was hot but not hot enough to kill you. I run a great 20K, Paul even thought for a moment that I was going to beat him; he injured his knee and had to crawl the last 6 miles. I did not drink enough water leading to the race, I was dehydrated. My hands doubled in size due to dehydration; I wish I took a picture; it was quite funny. The last 10KM were a bit on the hard side as I was no longer able to drink nor eat at any of the aid stations. Once I am dehydrated that’s it, my whole body shuts down. But hey I crossed the finish line running and smiling. One of the marathon runners crossed the finished line with me, he would not let me walk to the finish line and I had to run with him to the finish line! Because apparently you don’t walk to the finish line, you run!
I love Death Valley and I am sure I will be back there soon. Paul and I also drove out to Badwater. The Badwater Ultramarthon on July 24-26, 2006 takes place in … yes you guessed it Badwater! Badwater is the challenge of the champions. This legendary foot race pits approximately up to 90 of the world’s toughest athletes – runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers – against one another and the elements. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55C), it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.
The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at the Mt. Whitney Portals at 8360′ (2533m). The Badwater course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 13,000’ (3962m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 4,700’ (1433m) of cumulative descent. The Portals are the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. And strangely enough I am dreaming of Badwater: a brutal 135 mile stretch of highway, a hellish environment (55C!) and a sixty hour time limit. I can start dreaming now. I would like to crew/pace for someone doing Badwater in 2007. I am working on the qualification list for Badwater, it will most likely take a few years.
Badwater Application Rules:
Those submitting an application to compete in the Badwater Ultramarathon must meet at least ONE or more of the following Qualifying Standards. Please review these Qualifying Standards to determine which standard(s) describes you, if any. You will be required to select at least one of these when you submit your race application.
#1) You have officially finished at least three 100km or longer running races and/or multisport events that include running sections of at least 50 continuous miles.
#2) You have officially finished at least one 100 mile or longer running race and/or multisport event that include a running section of at least 100 continuous miles.
#3) You have officially finished at least one 50 mile or longer running race AND at least three very significant endurance sporting events such as Ironman (or longer) Triathlon, Eco-Challenge, Raid Gauloises, or similar expedition-length adventure race, Furnace Creek 508 bicycle race, Race Across America bicycle race, or comparable. An extensive mountaineering resumé might also meet this qualifying standard. (The definition of which "very significant endurance sporting events" qualify for this standard ultimately rests with the Badwater Ultramarathon organizers.)
#4) You have officially finished at least three 50 mile running races AND are a veteran Badwater Ultramarathon pacer. (A letter of recommendation from the athlete for whom you paced at the Badwater Ultramarathon is required.)
#5) You have officially finished the Badwater Ultramarathon (the actual race held since 1987; solo efforts will not be considered).
I love running but as one of the Marathon runners in Death Valley told me as he was passing me: long distance running is a mean, mean, mean sport. So hang in there!