Sunday, December 19, 2010

Badwater Ultramarathon - FINISHED Business - Part II

Badwater to Furnace Creek – 17.4 miles – 4.04 hours [3.22 hours in 2009]
Arrival Time: 12:04 PM
The first hour into the race I felt great but then suddenly things changed and I started to feel very dizzy and nauseous. All I could think was if this doesn’t get better soon there is no way I will be able to finish the race. Luckily there was a restroom just before the left turn into Furnace Creek. Markus Wiaderek and his crew had stopped there too and I asked them to let my crew know that I did not feel well. After resting in a chair for about 15 minutes and using the facilities I started to feel better and I got back on my feet and arrived at Furnace Creek after 4 hours and 4 minutes.

Beginning of the race - feeling good!

Starting to feel a bit dizzy and nauseous

My crew (from left to right Annette, Jeff and Bernie) working hard to keep me moving.

Leaving Furnace Creek feeling much better

Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells – 41.9 miles – 5.07 hours [5.12 hours in 2009]
Arrival Time: 5.11 PM
After leaving Furnace Creek I started to feel much better and picked up the pace a little bit. The nutrition worked like a charm. I used Perpetuem Orange Vanilla I also drank chocolate and strawberry milk, Starbucks Frappucino and V8 with lots of ice cubes tasted great. As for more solid food I had mashed potatoes, bananas, melons, fruit caps and rice pudding. My crew worked very well together and stopped approximately every mile to cool me down, feed me, change my drinks, and change the ice bandana. The Badwater Ultramarathon is a team effort, and I could not have done it without my amazing crew. After a while I passed Jack Denness , the oldest Badwater runner with who is 75 years of age and one of my running hero’s since watching the movie “Running on the Sun” . He truly is an inspiration!

Getting cooled down on the way to Stovepipe Wells (from left to right Jeff, John and Bernie)

I put my music on and got into a great running grove and just enjoyed being out there and the beauty of the Death Valley. After a while I noticed that my sister Annette, who is not a runner, seemed to be s to havinge some kind of problems. The crew later told me that she had problems with the heat. They gave her electrolytes and an ice bandana and after a while she was felteling better. Just before I got to Stovepipe Wells the first runners of the 10:00 am started to passed me.

The sand dunes on the way to Stovepipe Wells

Stovepipe Wells to Panamint Springs – 72.3 miles – 8:30 hours [8:15 hours in 2009]
Arrival Time: 1:41 AM
At Stovepipe Wells the crew restocked the car with ice, got some ice creams and reorganized the gear. I changed into some new clothes, put on my music and left Stovepipe Wells feeling really strong for the first major climb (17 miles, 5000 foot climb) up to Towns Pass. Even the strong hot wind coming down from Towns Pass which felt like running with a hair dryer blowing in your face, didn’t bother me much. I had no problems with heat this year at all. While walking at a good pace uphill, my fellow runner Rob Gryfe passed me, looking very strong. I thought I was walking quite fast but man , Rob was moving, and I didn’t have any chance to keep up with him. After a while, I caught up to my facebook Facebook friend Anthony Portera . He said he was having a bit of a rough and some stomach issues. I offered him a coconut ice cream and a rice pudding which he thankfully took. After a little chat and encouraging each other I continued my way up Towns Pass. A lot of tourists along the route honked their horns when they saw the Swiss flag. Four young guys from Switzerland turned around and wanted to take pictures with me. They didn’t know anything about the Badwater Ultramarathon and they thought the race was a relay. They were very impressed when my sister Annette gave them more information about the race and didn’t want to stop taking pictures till my crew chief John reminded me to keep moving and not wasting any more time. Good job John! I was having so much fun. Sometimes I actually forgot to look at the time!

Walking up to Townes Pass still smiling and having fun

Walking up Townes Pass with the amazing ultrarunner Michelle Barton and her pacer

"The runner who ate her crew" according to the funniest Badwater report ever:

With the evening setting in, the temperatures got a bit cooler and Jeff joined me. We made some good progress the last stretch to the top of Towns Pass and the 13 mile downhill to Panamint Springs Resort. I love running downhill and Jeff and I passed a few runners along the way and I was looking forward to take a shower at Panamint Springs.

Panamint Springs to Darwin – 90.1 miles – 6:28 hours [6:37 hours in 2009]
Arrival Time: 8:09 AM

After arriving in Panamint Springs I told John, my crew chief. that I wanted to take a shower. He didn’t want to agree and said I would waste too much time, but I insisted and he finally realized there is no way he could change my mind and helped me finding the room that was booked for the Badwater runners to use for showers or having a nap. There were about 10 people sleeping in the room but I was lucky no one was in the shower and I didn’t have to wait. While I took a shower my crew reorganized the van once again. When I got back to the van, John treated my feet for a couple blisters that I got due to my wet shoes and socks. I wasn’t careful enough not to get water into my shoes when I got sprayed with water to cool me off during the day. Huge lesson learned for the next time.

We spent about one hour at Panamint and then I set off with my sister Annette pacing me up the second major climb to Father Crowley’s. This is one of my favourite sections of the race. The night is pitch dark but the stars are so amazingly bright and they seem so close you can almost touch them with your hands. It is one of the few places I’ve seen the Milky Way which makesde Badwater it feel a more like a magical place than it is. Annette and I turned off our lights and enjoyed the beautiful view. When you look back into the Valley, you can see the lights of the other crew cars climbing uphill and you know behind each light there is another runner. It was very special having my sister there to share this incredible experience. We walked all night and talked throughout about family and life and everything else. Bernie later told me that she could hear us talking on the switchbacks. During the night we had another longer break. John needed to look at my feet again. After some special treatment, another change of socks and shoes he pushed me out with some food and Annette and I took off again. Annette really surprised everyone with her ability to walk me through the night as she was the only non-runner in my crew. Way to go little sister!

As the sun rose Annette was off her pacing duty and Bernie joined me. By this time I started to get some minor stomach issues and I decided I wanted to have a sandwich. Unfortunately, the bread had been thrown out and I was disappointed and not very happy. Bernie felt bad and asked a couple crew cars that drove by if the would have some bread. Luckily Nickademus Hollon’s crew had some bread left and were happy to share. A huge thank you to Nick and your crew! After eating a couple sandwiches I felt like a new person and my energy came back. John started to walk with me after Bernie and then the heat got to him. The crew drove a little too far ahead. I said to John I will go ahead and let to crew know to turn around and to get him. This was the beginning of a huge day ahead for me!

In the morning of the second day - my crew still working very hard to keep me cool.
Darwin to Lone Pine – 122.3 miles – 6:54 hours – 7th fastest time of all runners! [10:13 hours in 2009]
Arrival Time: 3:03 PM
Last year I had to walk the entire length of this part of the course and had very bad stomach issues. This year I ran the 7th fastest time of all runners on this section. I felt in incrediblye strong and was moving like it was the beginning of the race. I was so happy to be out there and just run on my own. Music is an amazing thing. I listened to my favourite tunes on my iPod and was in my own groove. The nutrition (Perpetuem, milk, V8 and mashed potatoes) worked like a charm again. At Keeler Bernie joined me again and we ran together all the way to Lone Pine. We passed a number of runners with one being my good friend Keith Straw who was not feeling well. Keith was doing the Grand Slam and was two weeks from doing Western States (Congratulations Keith! You did it! You are amazing!). He is a great runner and after the race he told me one of his secrets – which I can’t share with you! “What happens in Badwater, stays in Badwater”!

Swiss Miss on a mission!
Love V8 juice with lots of ice cubes!

Great picture taken by Luis Escobar on the way to Lone Pine

The Swiss Miss and her pacer Bernie looking very strong at Keeler


  1. The ice cream and rice pudding was awesome...just the right thing at the right time to get me going again. You rock!!! It was great seeing you out there in 2010, and I sure hope to see you out there again in 2011!

  2. Thanks Tony. That's one of the reasons I like it so much to be part of the "Badwater family". I hope to see you in Death Valley again this year.