Last week, as I was sitting in my air-conditioned office and swilling beers at night to keep cool in the Ohio “heat wave,” some of my US National 24-Hour teammates were tearing up the course at Badwater. When the dust settled, Mike Morton had an amazing performance, missing the course record by a heartbreaking 76 seconds. He covered the 135 mile course in 22:52:55. Harvey Lewis was 4th overall with a time of 26:15:31 and Phil McCarthy was 6th overall with a time of 26:52:01. Way to go guys!
The last place finisher’s time was a mere 47:08:14. The field this year was super fast. Each year, the times just keep getting faster and faster. This takes me back to 2002 when I actually ran Badwater – 10 years ago.
I had only finished a few ultras before I decided to tackle Badwater, after first hearing about the race from an interview given by Kirk Johnson, author of a book about the Badwater race called To the Edge. I thought the whole idea was so crazy that I had to see if I could actually do it, given that I absolutely hate hot-weather running.
Badwater poses many obstacles, the first of which is conning (I mean convincing) people to take vacation days and travel to the desert to be your crew. My obvious victims were my boyfriend, Roger, and my sister, Sue. Neither were runners so my crew was looking kind of bleak until I recruited two California runners I did not know from the Badwater message board, Kelly and Shawn. This would be a very good thing.
Things have definitely changed at Badwater from the runner in the bunny suit in 2002….. And while compared to today’s standards I wasn’t too speedy, I did make it to the top of Mount Whitney.