2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 1)
I did not have any plans of going to the Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Race for this year or go thereat to have a visit in the US on the early or middle part of this year. But I was thinking early this year to have my “redemption” run in this year’s Javelina Jundred 100-Mile Endurance Run which is usually held on the last weekend of October.
When Tess Leono was admitted in the lottery for this year’s Badwater 135 last February, I was surprised when she asked me to be her Chief Support Crew in the event, together with some members of Team PAU (Philippine Association of Ultrarunners). I was supposed to be a part of her Support Team in her first time to participate in the event (in 2016) where she finished and unfortunately, I was not able to make it due to more important commitment within the family. Actually, my International Race Schedule had been set as early as January of this year and Crewing for Tess at Badwater 135 Ultramarathon Race was not included as I wanted to return to Arizona, USA for my redemption at the 2018 Javelina Jundred in October of 2018. With her request, I have to adjust my schedule and finances. Having travelled to MIUT in Portugal (and London, Great Britain) in March and then in TNF Lavaredo in Italy in June, it drained a lot from my financial resources/savings and I was hoping that I could save some money for the rest of the year for my October trip to Arizona, USA. Nevertheless, if there is a will, there is always a way to solve problems.
I have known Badwater 135 Ultramarathon Race since I have started blogging, moreso, when I got hooked on ultra marathon. When I thought of creating and organizing the 1st BDM 102, I extensively visited its website and read its rules and regulations. Even if I attempted to provide Aid Stations in every 20 kilometers of the course of BDM 102, I have always returned to its website as my reference. On the 2nd edition edition of BDM 102, I completely copied and implemented the Rules and Regulations of the Badwater 135 to the BDM 102. Thus, it started my interest in this event and I even went to the Badwater Basin to witness the start of the 2009 edition of the event. I made post on this blog about such experience, thereby, seeing my “idols” in ultra marathon in person!
It became more interesting when Benjamin Gaetos finished this race in 2013 as the First Filipino Finisher and and then another Filipino based in California, Thomas Zaide, finished it and another Filipino based in New York City, Gerald Tabios, would finish the race, but it was Tess Leono who made an impact and more interest on this event because she was the First Locally-based Filipino and First Female Filipino to finish the race in 2016. In 2017, Franco Soriano, a Filipino based in San Francisco, California finished this race and Gerald Tabios finished his 4th consecutive finish in this event. In summary, only five (5) Filipinos and only one Female/locally based Filipino had finished this race.
This year, it would be another history in the making for Tess Leono to join this prestigious world’s ultra marathon race.
Training & Preparation
I asked Tess if she is interested to ask for the assistance of a Professional Coach and I recommended CTS for her or any of the available Coaching Services Online. She declined my suggestion but she requested me to guide her and assist her in her training. Knowing the training philosophy of CTS, I recommended to her my training schedule with the end goal to prepare herself for the mountain climbs and to improve her performance when she finished this race. I immediately sent her two weeks of training schedule to improve her lactate threshold through hill repeats and endurance runs and I would ask her about her feedback on a daily basis. I was frustrated when she told me that she was doing these runs on a treadmill. I can not blame her since she has an office job and some trips abroad to attend to as she had deadlines from her superiors. One time, I invited her for actual “hill repeats” in my Playground, of which, I was not satisfied with her performance at that time. There was still time for her to improve and I asked her to visit my Playground regularly or on a weekly-basis. Unfortunately, that single visit to my Playground to run and train was not repeated. As months, weeks and days passed by, I would see her in my PAU Events as one of the participants and I would see in her FB posts that she had LSDs and “heat training” in Metro Manila on holidays and on weekends. From what I saw on her performance in my PAU Races for the past months, I was confident that she will be able to finish this yea’s edition of Badwater 135 Ultramarathon.
Badwater 135 Team Leono
The Team Leono was organized after Tess Leono got the word from the Race Director Chris Kostman, through a Live Broadcast on Facebook, that she was able to get in in this year’s edition. I was requested as the Chief Crew and Pacer; Khris as Assistant Crew and Pacer; Jasper as the Medic Crew being a Registered Nurse; and Madam Rowena as the Assistant Driver. All of the members of the team are Licensed Drivers but I was the only one who had been in the area, Death Valley Park, for so many times. However, it was evident that I would be the Main Driver of the Support Vehicle from Las Vegas to the event’s site (up to Mt Witney Portal) and then back to Las Vegas.
Way back in Manila when we had a chance to meet in informal gatherings, Tess would advise us on some tips on how to be a Support Crew at the Badwater 135 and we have the impression that it was almost the same with what our Support Crew are doing in most of my PAU Races, most specially on those 100K and longer distances. However, during our arrival at the Death Valley Park a day before the start of the event, we realized that a special attention must be given to our runner, considering the extreme heat in the area. Fine tuning on how we would be able to support our runner was finalized on the day we arrived and stayed at Furnace Creek Ranch.
Sunday (AM) July 22, 2018
The team left Las Vegas at about 9:30 in the morning and I was the driver using my old GPS Navigation System for my Car whenever I am in the US. Our Support Vehicle was a Chevrolet Mini-Van and took a few seconds to orient myself and know the controls, specially the Hand Brake which is actually a Foot Brake for this particular vehicle. I had a mistake of setting the Automatic Transmission to Drive not realizing that the Foot Brake was still engaged. That was my Lesson #1 for this Mini-Van; Lesson #2 was the Air-Con control; and Lesson #3 was on how to make the Automatic Transmission Control to Manual (which I learned on the steep downhill drive on our trip back to Las Vegas after the event).
With everything complete on our administrative and logistical needs in our Support Vehicles (Ice Coolers, Stove, Food, Water, and some Ice) for the event, we left Las Vegas with a happy mood but with a little nervous feeling knowing the extreme heat weather forecast to the place we were heading.
We had our late breakfast/brunch in one of the Taco Bell branches on the commercial establishments located along the Blue Diamond Highway which leads us directly to the Furnace Creek Resort Hotel. Our first activity once we reach Furnace Creek, which is 110 miles west of Las Vegas (2-hour easy driving trip), is the Check-In and Registration of Participants.
To be continued….