Growing up in Switzerland and surrounded by beautiful mountains, I was always active. It wasn't until I met my husband Jeff that I started to run. Running became a lifestyle choice for us as we traveled the globe doing running adventures. I probably could have been satisfied with this level of running if I had not seen this one film that changed everything: Running on the Sun.
I WAS HOOKED!!!
I knew that Badwater was in my reach and I wanted to be the first Swiss woman to cross that finish line high up Mt. Whitney.
In July of 2009, I found myself at the 8 a.m. start line of the 135 mile Badwater ultra marathon that winds through the desert of Death Valley. This was my dream and I was in the midst of embarking upon it.
Through the tough desert sun I ran one of the best ultras of my life. I felt unstoppable. I had a great crew - all of my running friends from home in Canada. Everything felt great. I embraced the mountain climbs as I exited Death Valley and continued to run non-stop through the night. I couldn't imagine anything stopping me now. I was on course for the coveted Badwater belt buckle.
As I climbed Mt. Whitney, the last leg of my 135 mile journey I encountered the worst news I thought I had ever heard. Imagine running for nearly fourty hours, non-stop through the desert and then just about to finish the brutal four hour climb that drops you in the finish line chute only to be told that "I'm sorry, the finish line has been shut down. Forest fires ahead."
Ultras are suppose to teach you to overcome all obstacles in search of your goal. I was so mentally fatigued and so ready to taste victory, that I could not accept this reality. With less than 2 MILES to go to the finish of my 135 mile race, I had to turn back.
The next morning, my crew and I were allowed to cross the notorious Badwater finish line - arm in arm, Swiss flag raised and classic finish line photos taken. I did not DNF. I DID get the coveted Badwater belt buckle for finishing within the qualifying time limit. My official time, however, was 52:24. I lost a disappointing 13 hours and 40 minutes due to the fire.
I learned in February of 2010 that I was once again accepted as one of the very few athletes from around the globe to attempt a Badwater finish. I knew I had to return as I had "un.FINISH.ed" business. And finish it I did! Read my race report here.
I will apply once again to run Badwater in 2011. This is my favourite ultra race and why not - three's a charm!
Update: Three might just be a charm! I received the coveted email confirming that my application to run Badwater has once again been accepted for 2011. Bring on the heat!
And 3 was a charm!
Badwater Ultramarathon 2011 - 3 was a Charm!
In my third Badwater I ran my fastest time so far - 29:51:23 which was good for 3rd place female and 10th overall. After I got home, I found out that I missed my age group record set by Irina Reutovich of Russia in 2000 by less than 3 minutes. One more reason I'd love to go back and run the race again.
In February I received an email from Chris Kostman that I have been accepted to run the Badwater Ultramarathon in 2013. Woohoo! I am so excited to run my favorite race again. Deep in my heart I hope I will have the perfect race and run an even faster time than in 2011.
Dreams sometimes become true...
... and sometimes they don't...
My 4th Badwater Ultramarathon was the toughest race I've ever run so far in my life. It was 3 hours of fun and more than 33 hours of pure survival. My crew did everything they could to get me to the finish line. At one point during the race when my left knee started to act up and my forward moving was reduced to a slow limp, I even thought I may not be able to finish the race.
Luckily I'm very stubborn and I kept telling myself vigorously that DNF was not an option. On top of that, I knew that my crew would not let me DNF that easily.
Team Swiss Miss crossing the finish line in 36:42
Being almost 7 hours slower than in 2011 was disappointing. I am hard on myself and it took me a few weeks to finally realize that finishing 27th out of 96 runners and placing 7th woman out of 23 is really not that bad at all. Team Swiss Miss can be very proud of what they accomplished under very difficult circumstances.
I haven't given up on my dream to break my age group record and hopefully I will be one of the very few lucky runners who will get a chance to run the Badwater Ultramarathon next year.
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Can't wait to see this again... Milky Way in Death Valley! So amazingly beautiful!!
A few months later...
Unfortunately sometimes things don't go as planned. While snowboarding in Switzerland with my family on December 31, 2013 I took a bad fall and broke my sacrum. I'm off running for the past 3 months. With a very heavy heart I decided not to apply for the race this year.
It takes time and patience to get back in shape. I never give up my dreams and I know I will be back in 2015.