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2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 4)

8 08 2018

2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 4)

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

2nd Day Sunrise

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.

Loose Shoulder Along The Road

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

At The 2,000 Feet Elevation Marker

• 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.

From Stovepipe Wells To Towne Pass

• 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.

Before Reaching Towne Pass

• 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!

To be continued….

Downhill From Towne Pass

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2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 1)

2 08 2018

2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 1)

Introduction

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!

2009 Badwater 135 Champions: Jaimie Donaldson & Jorge Pacheco

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.

My Playground

Female Champion Tess Leono In A PAU Race Weeks Prior To BW135

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.

Brunch @ Taco Bell Along Blue Diamond Highway, Las Vegas

To be continued….

 





2018 Badwater 135: Official Press Release From Death Valley National Park

1 08 2018

While I am still writing a full description of my 2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Experience as the Chief Crew & Pacer of Ms Tess Leono, I would like to repost this article taken from the BADWATER Facebook Page. My story about my experience will be divided into parts and every detail of the story will be a description of what happened during the event from my own perspective.

Official Press Release from Death Valley National Park

World’s Hardest Foot Race Gets a Little Hotter

DEATH VALLEY, CA – On July 23-25, ninety-nine of the world’s toughest long-distance runners participated in the legendary Badwater 135. Even by Death Valley’s standards, this year’s ultramarathon was hot.

The annual summer race is widely recognized as “the world’s toughest foot race.” Extreme athletes from 22 countries and 22 American states faced off in a grueling 135-mile non-stop run from Death Valley National Park to Whitney Portal, CA in scorching temperatures.

With the hottest start line temperatures yet recorded (118⁰F), the racers began at Badwater in Death Valley National Park in three waves at 8:00pm, 9:30pm, and 11:00pm on Monday, July 23. It remained over 110⁰F through much of the first night of the race, eventually dropping to 95⁰F just before the sun came up and temperatures climbed up to 127⁰F.

With that brutal first night behind them, many runners struggled to meet the first time cut-off at mile 50.5, located approximately halfway up Towne Pass. Beaten down by the heat all night, which was also unusually humid, many were forced to stop to cool off in their support vehicles and were experiencing stomach issues and more.

As the new day began, the racers were climbing the 17-mile-long, 5,000-foot ascent of Towne Pass, as temperatures climbed to 127⁰F, setting a Death Valley temperature record for the date. The 135-mile race route includes three mountain ascents (Towne Pass, Father Crowley, and Whitney Portal), totaling 14,600 feet of elevation gain.

Twenty-two of 32 women and 47 of 67 men finished the race and earned an honorary belt buckle. This year’s winner, Michele Graglia, finished in 24:51 hours. The fastest woman was Brenda Guajardo, finishing in 28:23 hours. Sixty-two-year-old Pamela Chapman-Markle set a record in the women’s 60+ age group for the third year in a row with a time of 34:30.

Thirty of the 99 competitors were not able to finish the race this year, the lowest completion rate in the 41-year history of the event. This high “did not finish” (DNF) rate was likely due to the unusually high temperatures.

The vast majority of those who withdrew were veterans of the race and yet they still succumbed to the challenges of the course and the conditions. Notable “DNFers” included 2015 and 2016 champion Pete Kostelnick and 20-time finisher and four-time champion Marshall Ulrich.

“I’ve never seen such an astonishing number of withdrawals from the race. It was heartbreaking to see these incredible gladiators forced to withdraw from the race due to time cut-offs or because they succumbed to the incredible challenge of the race course and the extra brutal weather unleashed by Mother Nature,” commented Race Director Chris Kostman, who has helmed the race since 2000. “Of course, this race is widely known as ‘the world’s toughest foot race’ and the athletes intentionally come to Death Valley to compete during the hottest part of the year. They, and their personal support teams which leapfrog along the course to provide aid to the runners, know what they signed up for and they relish the challenge, even if they meet with DNF. In fact, seeing so many incredible athletes having to withdraw only underscores how fortunate and life-changing it is to actually finish the Badwater 135,” he continued.

Resting Before Towne Pass





Gerald Tabios: First PINOY “Back-To-Back” Badwater 135-Mile Race Finisher

18 08 2015

Last year, I featured on this blog the story of Gerald Tabios as the First Pinoy to have finished the New (Route) Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race to include his story as a runner/ultra runner. As a result, Gerald finished the 2014 Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race in 44:40:40 hours ranking him as #69 overall out of 97 starters.

Team Tabios Logo Of Badwater 135-Mile Race

Team Tabios Logo Of Badwater 135-Mile Race. Shirt Was Designed By Bryan Calo of San Diego, California (Photo From Facebook)

This year, 2015, Gerald surprised us again for his feat to run and finish the actual/original route of the race. As a result of a thorough study on the safety of athletes in the conduct of sports activities in the Death Valley Park which resulted to its closure to sports events for almost two (2) years, the Superintendent of the Park allowed the conduct of the Badwater Ultra Marathon Race on its original route, from Badwater, Death Valley Park, California to Mt Whitney Portal, Lone Pine, California with a very strict start in the evening, instead of a morning start. The race was held on July 28-30, 2015, on the hottest time of the year in the Death Valley Park.

Team Tabios @ The Starting Area (With Donna, Kat & Ronald)

Team Tabios @ The Starting Area (With Wife Donna, Robert Rizon, Kat Bermudez, Luis Miguel Callao Is Not In The Picture) Photo From Facebook

This is the brief description of the race as taken from the Badwater 135 Website:

“The World’s Toughest Foot Race”

“Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA, the Nutrimatix Badwater® 135 is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m). The Badwater 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places or landmarks with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Panamint Springs, Keeler, Alabama Hills, and Lone Pine.”

For this year, Gerald Tabios is one of the 97 starters who represented runners coming from 23 countries, including USA and Canada. With a cut-off time of 48 hours to finish the race, the runners have to endure the hottest temperature in the area, reaching to a high of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (air temperature) and another 200 degrees Fahrenheit heat coming from the pavement , gusty winds in the desert and mountains, the challenging vertical ascents of three (3) mountain ranges, and the sight of never-ending paved highway on the horizon. These are the challenges that each of the runners would experience before they reach the Finish Line. Each runner is ably supported by his team, consisting of a Support Vehicle, driver, pacer, and a medical/logistic aide, but most of the time, each member of the team are doing multi-tasks just to be able to bring their runner to the Finish Line, safe and without any injuries. Each runner would bring with him his logistical support and emergency medical/first-aid aboard his/her Support Vehicle, “leap-frogging” the runner from one point to another along the route. Gerald was supported by Team Tabios consisting of his wife, Donna Tabios, Kat Bermudez (wife of Bigfoot 200-Miler Finisher Jun Bermudez), Luis Miguel Callao (a Pinoy Ultra Runner), and Robert Rizon.

Luis Miguel “Nonong” Callao and Gerald Tabios are very close childhood friends and classmates since kindergarten!

Starting Area: Badwater Basin @ Death Valley Park

Starting Area: Badwater Basin @ Death Valley Park (Photo from Facebook)

Gerald In Action With Luis Miguel Callao As Pacer

Gerald In Action With Luis Miguel Callao As Pacer (Photo From Facebook)

Considering that the “original” course is harder and more challenging than last year’s “alternate/new” Badwater 135 route, Gerald improved on his performance. Gerald finished this year’s edition with a time of 42 hours, 52 minutes and 9 seconds, making him as the 65th overall finisher out of the 97 starters. Out of the 97 runners who started, 18 runners did not finish the race. Such DNF record for this year is higher than of last year’s edition. Despite such situation, Gerald was able to improve his performance chipping off almost 2 hours of his time last year and improving his ranking among the finishers.

To make his accomplishment more significant, he is the ONLY Filipino to have been qualified and invited by the Race Organizer to join in this year’s edition. And he is now in the history of this race as the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to have finished the Badwater 135-Mile Race in two consecutive years!

Approaching Mt Whitney @ Lone Pine, California

Approaching Mt Whitney @ Lone Pine, California (Photo From Facebook)

The Overall Champion of the 2015 Badwater 135-Mile Race is Pete Kostelnick of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA with a finish time of 23:27:10 hours. The Lady Champion, Nikki Wynd of Australia, finished the race with a time of 27:23:27 hours, making her as the 4th Overall Finisher of the Race. Race results can be seen here:

http://dbase.adventurecorps.com/results.php?bw_eid=74&bwr=Go

The Race Organizer of the Badwater 135-Mile Race is very selective in accepting its participants every year. Even if you have the financial resources to register; support the logistical needs in this race; or have the physical and mental prowess to undertake and run this course, every Runner must convince the Race Organizer on his/her advocacy to help the community or to the world for a better place to live in. As in last year, Gerald ran for a Charity to help the Victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. And since his successful finish in last year’s edition, Gerald had continuously channeled whatever amount of money he had raised to this advocacy/charity for the past two years.

Never-Ending Highway @ Death Valley Park

Never-Ending Highway @ Death Valley Park (Photo From Twitter/Badwater.Com)

In a brief interview with him, I asked if he is joining in the next year’s Badwater 135-Mile Race. He immediately replied, “Yes, I will be joining this race as long as I can run. This is a significant way that I can help my country, most specially, to those who are still suffering due to the effects brought about by Typhoon Yolanda.” Not only does Gerald is firm in his stand on his advocacy, he is also a good example of a fit, healthy, and hard-working father of a family.

Mabuhay ka, Gerald! You make us proud to be a Filipino! Congratulations to you and to Team Tabios!!!:

Proud To Be Pinoy!

Proud To Be Pinoy! (Kat Bermudez, Donna Tabios, Gerald Tabios & Luis Miguel Callao (Photo From Facebook)








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