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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 2)

4 08 2018

2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 2)

Pahrump To Furnace Creek

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.

Death Valley Park Kiosk For 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.

Zabriskie Point (Photo From Google)

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.

Furnace Inn Resort/Oasis Of Death Valley (Photo From Google)

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.

Tess Leono’s Pictorials

Catra Corbett & Her Book

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.

Furnace Creek Inn Lobby (Photo From Google)

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.

Furnace Creek Ranch Palm Trees

The View From Our Room At The Ranch

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.

Date Grove Diner @ The Ranch

Inside View Of The Diner

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!

Race Briefing With RD Chris Costman

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.

Group Picture Of Runners

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.

To be continued…








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