I had the chance and opportunity to have been up close to the runners and crew in this particular edition of this iconic Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Race in 2018. I was surprised to see this documentary film which was posted on You Tube in September 2018 and this is the only time that I learned about the fight for the Podium Places among the Elite Runners. I have seen how close these runners are who composed of what they call, “The Badwater Community”. My participation in this race as a Crew and Pacer will remain memorable as one of my best experiences as an ultramarathon runner.
Who would think that a Local Blogger who exposed this race to the minds of the Local Pinoy Runners through this blog and be able to copy its rules and regulations for his Bataan Death March Ultras and PAU Races, would be able to experience to be in the race and “rub elbows” with the past and present Champions of this race dubbed as the “Toughest Footrace In The World”. This video will explain what it takes to join and finish this race.
I hope you will enjoy watching this video. Thank you!
From Badwater Basin To Furnace Creek (0 to 17.5 Miles)
It was almost 15-20 minutes after the race started when we left the Parking Area. After being shouted at by the Traffic Marshal as we merged to the road, we moved on with a slow speed. I didn’t mind being shout at as it was a result of misinterpretation of the hand signal of the Marshal. Our main focus was to support Tess Leono and I have also the habit to shout at runners who are trying or observed to be violating my race rules and regulations.
Tess was already far from our sight as we moved on the first 200 meters of the route. Actually, we could no longer see her back! The temperature was still 120 degrees Fahrenheit and there was no sign that the heat is beginning to cool down even if the sun is about to set from the west horizon.
It was already “early evening twilight” when we saw the back of Tess on the left side of the road. She was not on the back of the pack as we advised her to be easy and slow on this section of the route but we were surprised to see her at the middle of the pack!
The following were the notes I had written/inputted in my iPhone’s Notes from the time the race started as I drove the Support Vehicle:
• Initially running at 9 kilometers per hour up to Km 5
• She kept on pouring water on her head on the first 5 kilometers and we had to stop every 2 kilometers (1.25 miles)
• She was looking like “stressed and nervous” on the early part of the race until she reached Km 8 (5 miles)
• Advise her to slow down within the first 5-kilometer stretch and advise her of the 12:3 ratio of run and walk (12 minutes of run/jog and 3 minutes of walk). She can lower her speed to 7 kilometers per hour.
• At Km 11, she had her first pee and she slowed down to a speed of 8 kilometers per Hour.
• She started to ask for a change of Shoes at Km 12 but when I asked why she was changing on the early part of the race, she changed her mind and decided not to push through.
• Told her to take some bite foods at Km 12 and she did. At this point, she was relaxed on her pace but she was still sweating profusely.
• At 9:00 P.M it was still 113 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature (as glanced from the Vehicle Controls)!
• Reached Km 15 in 1:58+hours
• She asked for her Chamois cloth at km 16.8.
• Arrived at Km 18 in 2:30 hours
• Arrived at Km 19 in 2:38 hours
• Arrived at Km 20.5 in 2:52 hours
• Asked for Coke for the 1st time at Km 21.6 at 3:03+hours
• Arrived at Km 24.6 in 3:36:30 hours
• Arrived at Furnace Creek Crossing Km 27 in 4:00:00 hours
• Arrived at Furnace Creek Aid Station at Mile 17.5 in 4:18 hours
• Bought 3 packs of Ice at Furnace Creek General Store
• Arrived at Km 40 (Mile 25) in 6:17+hours
My Personal Observation On The First 25 Miles
Tess was very fast on the early section from the Start to Furnace Creek Time Station @ Mile 17.5 (Start To Mile 17.5) but she apparently slowed down on the later half of the section due to many stops and refill/exchange of her Simple Hydration Bottle with Ice Cold Water. She was holding/carrying only one bottle at a time during the run. However, I have observed that most of the 16 fluid ounces of ice cold water was being poured on her head. We reached the Time Station at Furnace Creek at 4:18+ minutes without any mandatory cut-off time at this point.
It was in this Time Station (Furnace Creek) that she asked for a seat and a change of her shoes. In an instant after she sat, she was already having muscle cramps on her legs. We wanted to stretch or massage her legs but she shouted at us with “Don’t touch me!” Ok, fine…She was sweating profusely and we gave her a lot of water in her hydration bottle but I have observed that she would pour the ice cold water on her legs! Ok…I thought, maybe she wanted to have her 2XU long tights to be wet with cold water. Later on, she asked for a pair of scissors. What? For what is the scissors? Khris gave her the pair of scissors and she was cutting the lower part of her tights in a vertical manner. I only suspect that the tights was putting a lot of pressure/compression on her ankle and calf muscles. She felt relieved when she made some cuts on her tights. Later, I found out from her that it was her first time to use this new 2XU tights. I thought she was using her old tights for this event. We gave her the food that she asked at this point. In a few seconds after the pouring of ice cold water on her tights/legs, cutting her tights, and eating some foods/drinking some water and Coke, she was back on the road.
It was her request that we should stop whenever we see her on the road. In my estimate it would take us a few minutes from the time we prepare her next supply of water and food before we move from where we stopped up to the time we see her on the road. Sometimes, she would run, at least, one kilometer before we would look for a parking space on the side/shoulder of the road. As a driver, it was very tricky to look for a wide and stable space on the shoulder/side of the road. There are times that the shoulder is very loose with small rocks/sand that you don’t want your tires to go deep on those loose sand and rocks. The RD had advised us not to suddenly brake on these loose shoulders once we park our Support Vehicle as some of the vehicles would be sucked on the side of the road. It is also automatic that we would slowly drive our vehicle out of the shoulder when we leave. There is no rush in parking and leaving the parking area.
We could no longer count how many times we parked at the shoulder of the road of which we don’t have to. But it was difficult for us to have a nap or have time to rest and wait for Tess as she approaches our Support Vehicle as soon as we park our Support Vehicle on the shoulder. This park-support-leave cycle was repeated every almost one kilometer to one mile until it was sunrise.
At the break of dawn, we would see a lot of runners and Support Vehicles passing us and they are the runners that started with the Second Wave at 9:00 PM. Tess would continue with her run and walk, and she was back with her good running condition.
It was a matter of time before we reached Stovepipe Wells at Mile 40 as Tess would move progressively forward with the rest of the runners. The heat temperature had lowered in the early morning of Monday but it went as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit as early as 9:00 AM. As the runners relentlessly moved forward, the heat of the sun and the winds had also relentlessly became hotter and stronger. At a distance, we could see already the building structures of Stovepipe Wells. It was time to prepare myself as the Pacer of Tess once she reaches the Stovepipe Wells General Store.
Pacing Tess Leono From Stovepipe Wells To Panamint Springs
• Started to pace her at Stovepipe Wells General Store. We power hiked the uphill up to the Time Station where the RD was waiting which is still 8 miles away from the center of SP Wells. The RD was located at the 2,000 Feet Elevation Sign on the left side of the road. At this point, the RD told us that we missed the 10:00 AM cut off time by 9 minutes but he told us that we just proceed to Panamint Springs and be able to recover the negative time we had. It was time to push Tess to jog and hike the uphill climb to the peak of Towne Pass. At this point, the Elite Group who are with Wave 3 started to pass us and I observed that they consistently jogged on the road which is to my estimate is 5-15% gradient. I tried to jog behind Tess and I felt comfortable. While I slowly jogged behind her.
• Since I don’t want that our crew would also assist me on my needs from the Support Vehicle, I asked them to aid and concentrate on helping Tess on her needs once we approached our parked Support Vehicle. There are times when Tess would simply leave me as I was still refilling my bottles and chewing my solid foods. Most of the time, she would be 50-60 meters ahead of me and I have to jog the uphill climb just to be able to be directly positioned behind her. It would take me almost one minute to jog the distance where Tess is located.
• Early on, I taught her run while counting on her strides. I told her that we should do the “20/20 strides”—-20 strides on the run & 20 strides while walking. We did this kind of run & walking ratio on our way to. Panamint Springs. I also taught her to power hike as if she was race walking!
• After we crested the peak of Towne Pass, I was confident that the downhill route to Panamint Springs will provide us the confidence of a faster pace and speed. But I was wrong!
Team Leono Inside The Room @ The Ranch (Furnace Creek)
Our room that was reserved by Tess at the Furnace Inn Ranch was good for one day from 1:00 PM of Sunday to 12:00 NN of Monday with the hope that we could be extended up to 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM with an additional cost. However, the Hotel Administration would not allow us to extend our stay for another 5 or 6 hours because all the rooms were fully booked and reserved for the whole week. We tried our best to plea for their understanding to extend our stay but they could only allow us an extended period of stay up to 2:00 PM of Monday. And this was final!
Let me describe to you our situation in the room. We were 5 persons in one room but there are two double beds which could only accommodate only 4 of us (two persons on each bed). To remedy the situation, we had to pay an extra bed to be inserted in the room. Because of the bags and luggages; food; coolers; and other needs for the race were all inside the room, we had a very limited space for the folding bed to be fully deployed, instead, we got only the mattress from the folding bed to be placed on the floor in between the two double beds. The tallest among us volunteered to be the “Floor Manager”! It’s was good we had a very good coordination in the use of the single bathroom and toilet during the duration of our stay in this room.
The room has a Wi-Fi connection but it could only be used by two devices only per room. With the five of us, I was given the priority as I was the one who was posting some Updates on Facebook. However, there was a time that I could no longer connect when I disconnected myself so that others can use the allowed two slots per room. When I could no longer get any connection, I opted to have a dedicated Wi-Fi connection for myself by paying $10.00 from my Debit Card for the duration of 24 hours. This was the ONLY way for me to send some more “Updates” on Facebook before we left Furnace Creek. I knew that once the race starts, I will no longer have a Cellphone Signal up to Lone Pine, California or at Panamint Springs (Mile #70+)
While some of us were resting inside the room with the Full Power of the Air Con, Tess, Jas, and Khris were busy organizing our things but somehow all of us were able to rest. In the evening of Sunday, we started to get some Ice from the Ice Maker Machine of the Hotel at the front edge of the building. We were able to fill our Coolers with Ice for Free! From here on, it was just a waiting game and trying to maximize our rest and sleep inside our room. Night came but the extreme heat outside the building was almost the same during day time. After supper at the Diner, we just returned back to our room, take a shower, and then went to bed. I could no longer remember how many hours I was able to sleep during nighttime. I was too tired for the day. However, every time I go to the Bathroom to pee, I would observe that Tess was still awake. I wonder why she was not yet sleeping. Is she nervous, anxious, or have some things playing in her mind? Or is she checking on her cellphone or Facebook? I didn’t bother to ask.
We woke up at about 7:00 AM and we had to line up for the Bathroom and take turns. Hahaha! We were back to the Diner for our brunch…again! We did a lot of conversation in the room about how to fit in everything in the Support Vehicle and how we will be able to support Tess in an efficient clockwork manner. I would be the driver and the rest of the team will have to take their part of making sure Tess will finish the race. However, Tess had all the pressure on her as she is the Main Actress in this event.
After our Brunch, we started to bring all of our things to the Support Vehicle and it was Khris’ responsibility and work on making sure that all of our stuff was loaded properly before the 1:00 PM check-out time from the our room. Starting at 12:00 Noon we were disturbed by visits from the Hotel Staff reminding us of our check-out time by 1:00 PM. They made a lot of calls and visits to us and told us to leave the room until we finally left the room at 2:00 PM.
Waiting Game Before Leaving Furnace Creek
Tess told us that she will stay in one of the Team Tabios Rooms while the four of us as her Support Crew went to the Diner to pass the time and then pick her up near their Hotel Building anytime between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM. We waited inside the Diner for 3+ hours and we reviewed our plan on how to support Tess during the run. We made also our plan on how to resupply our needs for water and ice along the route as we anticipated for a higher and extreme heat/temperature the following day. On the last few minutes of our stay at the Diner, we ordered two Pizza for our anticipated Dinner food once the race starts at the Badwater Basin.
We left the Diner at 5:00 PM and parked a few meters away from the Team Tabios’ Hotel Building because there was no parking space available. We, instead, looked for a shaded area where we could wait for Tess. At exactly 5:30 PM, we left the Ranch Inn with Tess and dropped by the Gasoline Station at the entry road to the Ranch to fill up our gas tank on Full Tank. We panicked when a CLOSED sign poster was shown hanging at the Cashier’s counter. Jasper said that we could still pump the needed gas using her Credit/Debit Card of which we did. We were already fully-loaded and prepared for the event as we left Furnace Creek to the starting area in Badwater Basin, 17.5 miles away.
The two-lane/two-way road (one lane in each direction) from Furnace Creek to the Badwater Basin was busy with traffic due to the presence of the Support Vehicles. I drove slowly within the permitted speed from 30MPH up to 40 MPH until we reached the starting area in almost 30 minutes. We had enough time to take some pictures of the surroundings and watched the other runners and their Support Crew arrived at the Parking Area. After the usual Check-In procedures of Weighing and Final Check on the gear of each of the runners, they were advised to proceed to the Badwater Basin Sign which is on top of a wooden platform. More pictorials were done by the runners and their Support Crew on this spot while the start time was about to be reached.
Start Ceremony & Race Proper
The First Wave of Runners where Tess belongs starts at 8:00 PM and 30 minutes before that, a Simple Ceremony was held. There was a Short Prayer, Singing of the US National Anthem, and more Group Pictures of the Runners on video and still shots. Cris Kostman went on his way to shot a video of each of the runners using his cellphone while a group Pictorial was taken on them. He reviewed the runners on the cut-off times of each of the Time Stations but he emphasized that he wanted all the runners to reach Stovepipe Wells, whether they are within or not within the cut-off time. The RD is really a “hands-on” guy who treats his runners as his brothers and sisters. No wonder that this Badwater Event is a community of runners who know each other and help each other to finish the race.
Finally, the race started at exactly 8:00 PM and the runners started running, jogging, walking from the wooden platform of Badwater Basin, turning left on the concrete pavement/pathway going up to the curb of the Parking Area until the runners finally reached the left side of the road leading to Furnace Creek. The runners automatically formed a single file with reflectorized vests, blinking red lights on their back and front, and headlight on their head or using hand-held flashlight.
Each of the Support Vehicle was advised not to rush out from the Parking Area as there were Marshals who would control the traffic for all the vehicles leaving the Badwater Basin. The Traffic Marshals made sure that the Support Vehicles will not clog up with a file of vehicles along the road with short distance between each vehicle. I had the experience of being shout at by one of the Traffic Marshals when I interpreted his “hand signal” as a “go”, but instead, he was signaling me to proceed slowly and stop for a verbal instructions from him. Shit! I am a RD in the most popular ultra marathon race in the Philippines and here I am as a Driver being shout out by a Traffic Marshal??? Fuck You, Man!!! If only you know who I am.
I was surprised to see that Pahrump had been developed to a larger community of Commercial establishments and residences as compared when I first passed by at this place 10 years ago. This town is 60 miles away from Furnace Creek and it is about 50-minute to 1-hour drive. The scenery of the desert and mountains changed as we entered nearer to the Death Valley Park. Since it is mandatory for the Badwater 135 runners to purchase a Permit or Adventure Pass to stay at Death Valley Park, we have to stop in an unmanned Kiosk along the Highway and purchase the $30 Permit Pass which Tess Leono had to show to the BW staff during her Registration at Furnace Creek Registration Area. Since the place is unmanned Kiosk, you need to have a Credit/Debit Card to purchase the said Permit Pass.
From this point, you could see all around you the different colors of the rocks and mountains which I was not able to appreciate during my previous trips in this area. Five miles from Furnace Creek, on your left, you could see a large Parking Area which is the trailhead of the famous Zabriskie Point, a tourist spot in the area. However, at this period in the year with the high temperature in the area, it is very risky to hike on these spots. It was later in the day when I found out that these mountain and rocks around us were popular shooting locations of Hollywood’s Cowboy Films when I was still a child, starring Richard Widmark, William Holden and Marlon Brando in their younger days.
Finally, we reached the Furnace Creek Inn Resort which is the only Hotel establishment that you can see at the intersection of Highway 190 and the Road to the Badwater Basin. It is located on the right of the Highway. The place is now called the Oasis At Death Valley which has a Resort, Ranch and Golf Course! This is the first place where runners should go for their Registration, Body Shots/Picture with Race Bib, Group Picture of the Runner’s Team, Expo For Merchandise Items for Sale , and where to meet the other Runners for the first time.
At The Furnace Creek
There was a long line of Runners and their Support Crew when we entered to the Lobby of the Resort. There was a need to Fill-Up some forms for the whole Team and wait in line before we were told to proceed at the Registration Area, which is the Ground Floor of the Resort. The Registration and Plate Number of our Support Vehicle were also needed. After Tess submitted all the required forms and documents, we were led to the Pictorial Area where Tess “Mugshot” was taken as well as the Group Picture of Team Leono. The next step is more interesting…Shopping for the Badwater Merchandise! Badwater Rules and Regulations is very strict that we need to have Category 3 Reflectorized Outfit for the Support Crew. As compared to Category 2 Vest, the Category 3 Vest has Reflectorized bands on the sleeves. It is only the Runner/Participant who have the option to use any kind of reflectorized vest during the race.
I had a chance to greet my friend, Catra Corbett, who was at the Pictorial Area promoting her newly published book and I was able to buy a copy of her book with an autograph. One of our Support Crew was able to buy also her book and had some pictorial with her. From here it was time for us to look for our accommodation which was reserved by Tess.
One mile from the Oasis At Death Valley along Highway 190, is where our room/accommodation is located. It is called the Furnace Creek Ranch, simply called “The Ranch”! The entry road to the establishment is beside a Gasoline Station (the only one at Furnace Creek!) and a road further down along the Highway is the entry to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center where the Digital Thermometer is located. After our Check-In at The Ranch, we finally have the comfort of our bed in an Air Conditioned room. The room is a heaven for us knowing that the outside temperature was 120 degrees Fahrenheit and it was still going up later in the afternoon. The Ranch consists of rows of two-store buildings with rooms and we were designated to stay at Building 6, first floor. The rooms are designated from 500-900, of which I really don’t know if the establishment has that 400+ rooms in the said place. From afar, you could not see the buildings as this patch or portion of the Furnace Creek is the only green and vegetated area in the place surrounded with trees and palms. There is a Diner, a Golf Course, and Golf Shop/General Store where we can buy some groceries and ice, but with a higher price for obvious reasons.
After we settled in our room with our personal belongings, we went to the Diner to have our late Lunch/early Dinner. It is a walking distance from our Building but we opted to ride in our Support Vehicle because of the heat outside the building.
The Diner is big and according to Tess, it is a new structure in the place. It looks like a huge Cafeteria to me where one has to order his/her choice of food whether its Pizza, Pasta or Hamburger and some packed foods and sliced fruits. There is unlimited serving on drinks/Soda if you paid for the drinks. A Whole Pizza costs $24.00, enough to have 2 slices for the members of the team and Hamburger with French Fries at $13.00 each. The drinks must an additional $3.00 each! After our lunch, we went back to our room and waited for the scheduled Race Briefing at 5:00 PM of Sunday with only the Runner and the Chief Support Crew in attendance at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.
The whole team went to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center where there is a Hall and Seats, which looks like a Stage or a Hall where a Movie/Film could be shown. The rest of the team waited at the Lobby of the Visitor Center where there is a Merchandise Store, Museum, and Reception Area manned by The Park’s Rangers/Management. Tess and I went inside the Hall and the Race Briefing had started already. All the seats were full, some were seated on the floor at the back portion of the Hall and some were just standing on edges of the said Hall. Chris Kostman, the Race Director & Organizer was at the stage infront of a Speaker’s Podium and Microphone. He just barely started as he was relating to the audience about the history of the event and the his story on how he became the Race Director and Organizer.
His briefing progressed with a relax tone with some funny ad-libs to his briefing. He explained the reasons why the Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Race is considered as the “Toughest World’s Foot Race” as stated by the National Geographic Magazine; writers from Outdoor Magazines around the world, and from other Runners who finished this Race. As he was talking about his mission/objective as the Race Director, he asked the audience if there are Race Directors in the audience and asked them to stand up. Of course, I was one of those who stand up because my BDM 102 is becoming popular to international runners. Until it came to a point when he called the International Runners mentioning their country and letting each runner stand up to be recognized. I cheered, shouted and clapped when Tess Leono and Philippines were mentioned by the RD. He asked the “First-Time” runners to stand up and congratulated them for being selected in this year’s edition of the event. And then asked the “repeaters” of this event to stand up, mentioning how many times they have finished and then asked to sit down until the last one, Marshall Ulrich, remained standing! Yes, he is the Legend of the Badwater 135 for finishing the event for 20 times and winning as Champion in some of the editions, I think, for four or five times!
He awarded an Award of Recognition to Ray Sanchez who finished the Badwater 135 for 10 consecutive years! Wow! And after the awarding, Ray Sanches was made to say a few words to the audience. This guy is really tough! He got a lot of applause from the audience.
The last part of the briefing is the briefing presentation on the Rules and Regulations of this race. It just a repetition of those R & R that you can read on the event’s website and the regular e-mail that a runner-participant receives from the Race Director.
Some administrative announcements had been made about what establishments along route which will be open at nighttime and early morning where gasoline, water, grocery and additional ice will be available. There are four significant places/locations where these runners’ needs will be available: Furnace Creek Ranch; Stovepipe Wells; Panamint Springs; and Lone Pine.
After the briefing, all the runner-participants were asked to assemble infront of the Digital Thermometer outside the Furnace Creek Visitor Center for the Group Picture. I took this opportunity to take some picture of the runners and talked to some of them.
Tess Leono will be starting with the First Wave of Runners at 8:00 PM of Monday, July 23, 2018. We have at least a day, 24 hours, to rest and prepare before going to the Starting Line at Badwater Basin, 17 miles away from Furnace Creek. We should be there before 7:30 PM for the Weighing, Final Briefing and Group Picture.
It’s time to rest and sleep. It will be two (2) very long days ahead of us once the race starts.
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.