Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Badwater Ultramarathon - FINISHED Business - Part III

Lone Pine to Portal Road – 131 miles – 2:56 hours [3:34 in 2009]
Arrival Time: 5:59 PM

When Bernie and I turned the corner into Lone Pine I started to feel a little bit tired and I was looking forward to using a real washroom at the Dow Villa Hotel and to take a short break before climbing up the steep uphill section to the finish line. My crew chief John told me that it was only about one mile to the Dow Villa Hotel but that mile felt like a lot longer! After using the washroom I didn’t want to waste any time and started off up to the Mount Whitney Portal road. My crew were taking luggage out of the car to make a little bit more room in the van and put it into the hotel room.

Arriving at the Dow Villa Hotel check point not looking all that bad

When I crossed to road and took the left turn to Mount Whitney portal road I caught up with the nice Australian girl Susannah. We started walking uphill together and it was very pleasant to share some experiences with another runner. Susannah told me that she had a bottle of Champagne at the finish line, “the real thing not one of those cheap ones.” Way to go Susannah! You deserved it!

After about 2 miles my crew caught up with me and John joined me on the walk up to Mount Whitney. We talked about all kinds of different things and he did a great job pushing me uphill.
My crew chief John and I walking up Mount Whitney Portal road
Starting to feel a little bit tired

Keep moving!! One foot in front of the other!
Portal Road to Finish Line – 135 miles – 1:22 hours [14:55 hours in 2009 including lost hours due to forest fire]
Arrival Time: 7:21 PM

At Portal Road (131 miles) we took another longer break. I used the washroom (the ever famous outdoor WC) and changed my clothes again. John wasn’t very happy to see me wasting more time and wanted me to pass Susannah but I decided I wanted to look good for the finisher pictures. Sorry John! At that point I was not competitive anymore and was just looking forward to cross the finish line in real Swiss Miss Style!
Nothing can stop me now...

Annette joined me for a couple of miles and then Jeff took over the pacer duties for the last short section. What a difference to walk this section in daylight. The view is simply amazing. John, Annette and Bernie drove ahead and John parked the car. We all thought that we would be at the finish line before 7:00pm but I slowed down a little too much. Annette and Bernie realized that we had to put on the reflective vest and the night light again as it is mandatory after 7:00pm. They ran down with the vests and the lights for Jeff and me and got a ride back up to the finish area with Susannah’s crew, which was very helpful. Thank you so much guys.
One mile to go! Come on Jeff!

A short distance before the finish line Jeff and I met up with John, Annette and Bernie and we all ran together with the Swiss flag through the wonderful finish line of Badwater. Each runner gets to cross the tape, no matter if you are the winner or not. Every runner at Badwater is a winner and it is such a wonderful feeling to cross that tape with my crew beside me.
Team Swiss Miss running to the finish line - holding hands - exactly the way I've dreamed it...
We did it again! 35:21 - 22nd place overall, 5th women
Badwater Ultramarathon race director Chris Kostman and the Swiss Miss (including finisher medal and belt buckle)
Team Swiss Miss rocked! (from left to right: my friend and crew chief John, my dear friend Bernie, the Swiss Miss, my husband Jeff and my little sister Annette)

The Aftermath

After the finish ceremony with lots of pictures and getting the finisher medal and the devoted Badwater belt buckle from the race director Chris Kostman we drove down to the hotel in Lone Pine where we all had a nice shower and got cleaned up. We met up with Rob Gryfe and his crew at the Pizza place across from the hotel and celebrated with some draft beer. One thing I know for sure, if I get into the race this year I will have a bottle of chilled Veuve Clicquot Champagne at the finish line (thanks Susannah you got me thinking about how important it is to celebrate in style).
Everyone was tired but very happy with respective times, how things went in the run and that everyone was well. The next day John cleaned out the van and Jeff and Bernie went to the car wash to make sure the rental company has nothing to complain about the van. Soon after that we drove up to Mount Whitney portal and along the way we say Jack Denness who was on schedule for his amazing finish at 75 years of age. We had lunch at the finish line, talked to fellow runners and enjoyed the relaxing setting of the portal which is so beautiful. Later in the afternoon we met up with all the other runners and crew members at the post Badwater pizza party. When Jack Denness walked into the room after his finish he got a standing ovation from everyone.
Once the award ceremony was over we went to Jake’s bar for some wine, beer and chilling out. It was great to see all the Brazilian guys, Jack and his wife Mags and many of my fellow Badwater runners. We had a few drinks, took some pictures with Jack and Badwater Ben and some more with other runners and crew member. Everybody was having a good time. When we left we bumped into the youngest BW runner, Nickademus Hollon and I was dying to see who’s feet were worse – his or mine. Nickademus won! We all walked back to the hotel. Annette and I were still in celebration mood and we sat down on the bench outside of the Dow Villa Hotel to talk about some of the most memorable moments during the Badwater Ultramarathon. Some time after midnight Mags and Jack Denness came back from Jake’s bar and joined us on the bench. We talked and had fun for another hour. Jack is the most incredible 75 year old man I know. After starting the Badwater Ultramarathon on Monday, July 12 at 6:00 am and running for almost 60 hours, finishing on Wednesday, July 14 just after 5:00pm he was out partying till midnight. How amazing is that? I told him I won’t mind turning 75 if I will be in the same shape as he his. The four of us had some great laughs together. We found out that Jack’s sponsor “Seven Seas” was not a cruising company like we thought and Mags told us another Badwater secret that I can not share with you. Like I said before, what happens in Badwater stays in Badwater. A very memorable moment to end our second Badwater Ultramarathon adventure!
The girls are having fun at Jake's (from left to right: the Swiss Miss, Annette and Bernie)

The Swiss Miss and her Badwater heroes - Jack Denness and Badwater Ben

Jack Denness and the girls (from left to right Annette, the Swiss Miss, Jack, Bernie and Tammy (Rob Gryfe's crew)

Whos feet are worse? Nickademus won! (I was wearing Drymax Maximum Protection socks)

Thank you so much to all my sponsors: Attar Metals, my dear friend Donna Attar, Bob MacGillivray from Drymax, and Xy Weiss from Dirty Girl gaiters. Congratulations to Rob Gryfe, a fellow Toronto Ultrarunner and his crew who helped and encouraged me along the challenging course. Further I want to thank my family and friends in Switzerland for all your support. I know you all where there in spirit and I was thinking of you during those long hours out in Death Valley. And thank you from the bottom of my heart to the most amazing Badwater crew I could have: my crew chief John Rennison, my lovely husband Jeff Cooper, my dear friend Bernie Kennedy and my awesome little sister Annette Brogle who came all the way from Switzerland to help my Badwater dream come true. And last but not least a huge thank you to Chris Kostman for putting up such an amazing event. Badwater is simply amazing. I cannot imagine it not being part of my running life. Nothing compares to the bond you have with your crew and the friendships formed there with all the other runners and crews crossing Death Valley for one goal. It is an honour and privilege to get accepted to run the Badwater Ultramarathon, something very special that I don’t take for granted, and I hope to be part of the Badwater Ultramarathon again this year.
Photo credits: Chris Kostman, AdventureCorps (; Bob MacGillivray, Drymax (; Ben Jones ( ), Gareth MacKay, Luis Escobar ( ), Charlie Nickell (, John Rennison, and Annette Brogle.


  1. Hi there Iris!! Swiss Miss..!!

    Great blog recap and so glad I found it.
    I crewed for Susannah Harvey-Jamieson and we were with you guys for a long time. Talked with your husband and crew many times!! Badwater is so great!

    Anyway, great job out there and a great crew you had! It was so awesome to see you all finish!

    John V.
    Las Vegas, NV.

  2. Hi John,

    Thank you very much and thanks again for your help getting my crew back to the finish line. Susannah is an amazing runner. You and the rest of your crew did a wonderful job. And I only can agree - Badwater is great!

    Maybe our path will cross again in Death Valley this year.


    Iris (the Swiss Miss)