Badwater Ultramarathon #2: Dean Karnazes; Pam Reed; and Others

I woke up at 4:00AM, prepared my things, took a shower, and before 5:00AM, I was already on the road with my wife towards Badwater, California. It was still dark and the street of Los Angeles were clear and I was the only one on the side streets near our place before hitting California State Highway 101 North and later merging at Interstate Highway 10 East after leaving the City of Los Angeles. (Note: US Highways are designated with odd numbers if they go North to South or vice-versa and even numbers if they go West to East or vice-versa)

Well, it had been a long time that I did not drive a car. In the Philippines, I still have my driver to bring me where I want to go in Metro Manila and when I am in Laoag City. But once I am here in the United States, my son or my daughter or my wife becomes my official driver/s and I rarely drive while I am with my family. However, I am a holder of a California Driver’s License which I had renewed regularly since I got it after my schooling in Fort Benning, Georgia and having stayed with my family in Los Angeles for a few months in the early ’80s.

For today’s trip to Badwater, I was made to drive the car as my son and daughter have their respective offices/jobs to attend to plus their scheduled attendance to a Coldplay Concert in Los Angeles on Monday evening. Driving in the US is very easy and efficient unlike driving in the Philippines. Where on Earth (except in Europe’s Autobahn) would you experience driving for hours with an average speed of 80-90 miles per hour? Yes, that was my speed along Interstate Interstate Highway 10 East and later hit Interstate Highway 15 East. Sometimes, I would increase to 100-110 MPH but my wife would remind me that I was way above the authorized 75 MPH speed. She would not like to pay a fine of $260.00 for speeding. That would be equivalent to the price of a Newton and an ASICS Running Shoes!

After one hour of driving, we have to stop at Barstow to fill up the gas tank of our Toyota RAV 4, bought ice cubes for our Coleman Ice Chest where I placed a lot of bottled water, Red Bull, Gatorade and fruits, and we had coffee to go. After 15-20 minutes stop at Barstow, we were on our way to Baker, California, as our Gateway to Death Valley National Park, where we would leave Interstate Highway 15 North and hit California Highway 127 towards north going to the center of Death Valley National Park.

This is California State Highway 127 after leaving Baker, California. At this point, I still had 110 miles (176 kilometers) to go before reaching Badwater Basin, the Starting Area of the Badwater Ultramarathon. There are no structures along the way as it is preserved as a National Park because of its desert and unique land features and mountains.

Driving along CA Highway 127 was a bliss and fast as I was alone on the road. I think I had overtaken two vehicles and met at least 3-4 vehicles on the opposite way for the distance of almost 60 miles before turning left to California Highway 178. CA Highway 178 goes directly to the heart of the Death Valley Park and I had to travel 25 miles along this road until it became an ordinary asphalted road without any center divider line to separate the opposite lane. The CA Highway 178 ended to become the Badwater Road.

At the end of CA Highway 178, there were parts of the earth/soil which were washed away from the mountain and desert due to flash floods and rains on the middle of the road and it made our trip slower for a while. However, once we hit the Badwater Road, we could see the lowest part in the whole United States and we seldom met any vehicle along the road. For almost 45 minutes, we were alone along the said road with a temperature reaching to 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. My wife became nervous as we did not see any other vehicle for almost 30 minutes except when we had a sight of a Ranger Patrol Car parked on the side of the road.

I was confident that I had the right direction and I was always asking my wife what is the time as I estimated to be at the Badwater Ultramarathon Starting Area in 4 hours and 30 minutes to include our brief stop along the way. I was thinking that I had to reach Badwater at 9:30AM with my estimate of our travel time. And suddenly, the Starting Line was on our sight after a long curve on the road.

I arrived at the Badwater Basin at 9:25AM and I was happy that I had still 35 minutes to take some pictures and time to mingle with the elite runners and later witness the start of the 10AM elite runners group on the 31st rendition of the Badwater Ultramarathon.

The Badwater Ultramarathon Starting Area is a small Rest Area or Viewing Area of the Badwater Basin along the CA Highway 190 which has a parking area good for about 50 cars, toilets, and a wooden elevated stage where the elite runners had their group picture before the start of the race.

The following were the pictures taken before the start of the Badwater Ultramarathon.

This is the only shaded area at the Starting Area where the race organizers would take blood samples, conduct brief medical check-up and weight-in to all the runners/participants.

This is the elevated wooden structure on top of the Badwater Basin where a small amount of water is left on the sides. Fifteen minutes before the start, all the 10AM group of elite runners had a picture taking and at the same time served as their final meeting place and got their final instructions from the race manager. Sports photographers, media, relatives, friends, and crew members were infront of the runners taking pictures. I observed I was the only Asian and spectator for the 10AM event as the rest of the crowd were the race organizers, marshalls, medical staff, members of the family & friends of the runners, and members of the crew of each respective runner/participant. 

From left is Akos Konya (with white cap) who is 33 yrs old from Oceanside, California and a native of Hungary, Dean Karnazes (#4), and Pam Reed (with black shorts). These three elite ultramarathoners are the favorites in this race. Konya finished 2nd last year.

This tall guy is David Goggins (#3) who carries the brand The 100 Mile Man. He is the present US Record Holder of the most number of miles ran in 48 hours (203.5 miles). He is presently a member of the US Navy Seals and he has an impressive record in ultramarathon for the past two years. He finished #3 in last year’s Badwater Ultramarathon.

Well, this is the Best Picture For The Year. A pose with The Ultra Marathon Man, Dean Karnazes. I will post another story later on my brief chat and meeting with Dean Karnazes. 

Aha! Another Best Picture For The Year! A pose with Pam Reed, The Ultra Marathon Woman. I will be posting another story about my brief meeting and chat with this wonderful lady.

Konya and Goggins at the Starting Line. Here are two contrasting apparel of two ultramarathoners where one is wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with cap and another wearing a dark-colored singlet for an ultrarun with a temperature reaching up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit on daytime.

I counted 32 ultra runners for this 10AM group out of the 80 runners who finally accepted the invitation of the Race Organizers to run this event. There were no prayers before the start of the run but they had to play and sing the US National Anthem (Star Spangled Banner) before finally starting the race.

And there they go! The start of a 135-mile distance in 60 hours along California Highway 190 and 136.

21 thoughts on “Badwater Ultramarathon #2: Dean Karnazes; Pam Reed; and Others

  1. levyang

    Thank you very much for sharing these pictures with us, priceless talaga. I think it’s also great that you have your wife with you to share the experience

    levyang, anything about running, i’ll do it for you, guys! my wife was enjoying seeing me talk with these “crazy” guys under the heat of the sun with temperature at 115 degrees Fahtrenheit and she was laughing that i was the only Asian and the only guy wearing long pants & leather shoes with the crowd!


  2. levyang

    Sorry, I just can help it. WOW!!! Ang galing ng pics!!! Naiinitan na ako just looking at them. Thank you Baldrunner, it’s as if we, your readers, were also there with you.

    levyand, hindi lang ikaw ang napa-wow when i reviewed the pictures i had, i was the happiest guy on earth seeing these pictures and be talking with these icons of ultramarathon.


  3. impressive sir jovie! wish we were there with you. good luck on the SF marathon.

    runmd, don’t worry, i am considering in applying for the 2010 Badwater and i will get you as one of my crew. so better start training now and save money for our trip.


  4. prometheuscometh

    you are soooo lucky to be there and we are lucky to have you be there too. it’s like they were posing for photo ops like we do in the races! great pics!

    prom, if only i wore my running kit with these ultrarunners for the pictures, the captions for the pictures should had been “DK posed with Bald Runner” and “Pam Reed with Bald Runner”…hahaha!


  5. Parang ang bitin naman ng post ni BR. May suspense. Hehehe. Great pics. Makes me crave to run a 42K this year and an ultra next year.

    jinoe, go for it! experience the marathon and later the ultra!


  6. witchkitty

    whoa! speechless!…** i am just putting myself in your shoes as if i was there **

    witchkitty, thanks for the comment. these runners were awesome!


  7. runningbisaya

    Hi BR,

    Thank you for sharing these pictures with us. I agree it is indeed an exotic piece, not a lot people has the break to go there and take these photos perhaps. For me it is very informative as well I can see from the pictures that participants most of them have thicker built compare to those elite runners who run 42k race (Kenyans).

    Buena trabajo!


    gene, the male runners are realy very athletic and bigger than the ordinary Asian built but the women ultra runners are the same with the built of any Asian and they are good endurance runners. Among the top 14 runners in the 2008 Badwater Ultra, eight (8) are women!


  8. sfrunner

    BR……Awesome recap and photos! You with ultramarathon icons – Pam Reed and Dean Karnazes. Enjoy!

    wayne, thanks for the comment. by this time you know already who won but meeting these icons in ultra running was really a “big deal” for me.


  9. Hi tito! I’m also in Cali until July 26. Currently in San Fo now, then am heading to LA/ San Diego next week! :O) … You training already for your San Fo Marathon? Good luck!!!

    doray, yes, i am still on my training here in LA for the SF Marathon. thanks!


  10. carlo

    BR, thanks for sharing these awesome pics! I think it’s great that your wife was willing to travel all the way out there with you in the heat to witness a race. Not many wives will do that, haha! Looking forward to your next stories.

    carlo, my wife wanted to see the place and travel with me. she was happy that she was able to see those rock formations and mountains and those endless paved road in the middle of nowhere in california.


  11. fuerzaarmada

    Nagpintasen Apo! My knee injury was suddenly gone after seeing those pictures.All of a sudden I’m rethinking of joining the TNF100 this July 26-27…

    fuerza, seeing these ultra runners in person really inspire runners to experience such event. go for it, try the TNF 100 and good luck!


  12. annalenemb

    wow!!! great pix, BR! ……congrats for that opportunity to be with the ultra marathon man and woman… cant wait for your next post esp on your stories about your chats with the icons…

    annalene, thanks! as promised i will be posting them soon!


  13. bugobugo85

    this looks like the first bald runner event and has to be renamed BALDWATER ultramarathon dapat sir look comfortable and cool as an organizer.nice ojt.enjoy the summer.

    bugo2x, i was there to learn how they do the event and it was a great experience! yup! i thought of that “Baldwater Ultra” name, too and it sounds nice!


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  15. speechless ako talaga… =)

    i’m pretty sure that you have a spirit and feeling to run with them on that race day… or perhaps you can’t wait to run in the following morning and try to picture out that you are running in badwater ultramarathon.

    great pictures!!!


  16. aldzheimerz

    woohoo.. I actually read from your Manhattan Beach Run post through the Badwater posts down to this one. Really great!! I’m so envious of you!! You’re so fortunate to have met all those running icons!! Really awesome!! 🙂 Really great pics and posts. I really felt being drawn to that event.


  17. kingofpots

    highaltitude, seeing the elite ultra runners in the badwater ultramarathon was very inspiring and the more that you want to experience also what it takes to run in the desert.

    aldz, thanks. posting such pictures of the badwater ultra was very inspiring to those who are interested in ultramarathon running.

    samie, the red shoes at the badwater ultramarathon was made by BAR specifically for each participant of the badwater run. it is a “made to order” shoes for ultramarathon by an european ultra runner. they are not available in the united states.


  18. Pingback: 2009 Badwater Ultramarathon « Bald Runner

  19. Pingback: TNF (Phil) Sucks! « Bald Runner

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