Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Death Valley 2013 - Prelude

Doug and Jim wait for Marvin's plane to arrive.
January 9, 2013 - It is all Marvin's fault. I wouldn't have thought of such a hare-brained scheme myself. About a year and a half ago Marvin Hall floated to me the idea of running the Badwater Ultramarathon Course for fun that winter. What could I say but "I'm in." I mentioned it to my brother Jim and he was immediately gung-ho to do it. After initially looking at January of 2012 and not being able to coordinate schedules, we put it on the calendar for January of 2013.

The Badwater Ultramarathon is a 135 mile road race that has been held in July for many years. The course starts at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest point in the U.S., and finishes on Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental U.S. Originally the race went all the way up Mt. Whitney (over 14,000 feet) but at some point that was disallowed so now it finishes at the Whitney portal at about 8300 feet. The actual race is in July when daytime temperatures run up to 130 degrees (crazy!) and runners have 48 hours to complete it.

Our plan was to take four days to run the course (about 34 miles a day) and do it in January when temperatures generally top out around 70 degrees (a little more sane). Marvin was able to convince a friend, Doug Miller, who had significant experience in Death Valley working with Penn State, to be our support. There aren't many lodging establishments along the course so we would run to a certain spot each day, be picked up by Doug and drive to a motel, and then drive back to where we stopped in the morning and start again.

Jim shows off emergency rations.
Yes, I know we have taken the wimpy way to run this. Real men like State College's own John Fegyveresi, who completed the actual race last summer (and more impressively the Barkley Marathons last spring), run it in less than two days when it is 110 degrees and if he were doing it our way he would probably camp in a tent. But what can I say, I guess I am only somewhat adventurous (I won't speak for the other two because I know at least Marvin is a hardier soul than I am).

I flew out to Las Vegas today and am sitting in a motel room at Pahrump, NV, about to turn in for the night. The three of us met at the airport, drove a few hours, got some groceries and now here we are. In the morning we are planning to leave at 5am, drive the hour and 45 minutes to Badwater, and start running at daybreak (7am). We will run at least 30 miles, possibly further if we feel well after 30.

I just hope I feel better tomorrow. I feel like crap after all that flying and my body clock is messed up and I've been fighting a cold for the last week. Whine, whine, whine. Having said all that, I am glad to be here and anxious to get started in the morning.

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