Like the Badwater 135 foot race. It was my second time to crew at this extremely challenging ultra race that takes place mostly in Death Valley (in mid-July, mind you) and ends en route to Mount Whitney. If you aren’t familiar with the race, you can read the course summary here. I was grateful to serve as 1 of 4 crew members for the lovely Aussie, Sandy Suckling. She’s an amazing masters ultra runner athlete and one of the most light-hearted, upbeat, joyful women I’ve known. The Badwater 135 race is no joke. It chews people up with its harsh conditions (think extreme heat, wind, desert vast nothingness, desert night cold, altitude thrown into the mix) and is not for the weak-minded. You have to prove you are a badass just to be considered for this race, by the way. Once you get accepted to participate, you better make sure you have a trustworthy crew and they have their stuff together. It is said that crewing for a Badwater athlete can be just as challenging as doing the race itself. Okay, I made that part up.
One of my main roles as a crew member was to keep an eye on Sandy’s hydration and food intake. She’s no stranger to competing in ultra running events (or little things like running across the 4 Deserts or Mont Blanc!), but she had suffered some nausea and issues surrounding food intake in previous ultras that she hoped she could avoid this time. With some Metabolic Efficiency™ training under her belt leading into the race and some careful planning on our part, we had a Nutrition Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. It is well-known that nutrition and hydration are key elements to a successful race at Badwater. There aren’t many ultra runners who get to train in 115-125 degree heat, in the desert, and then do several climbs to altitude, all for 135 miles on road. The carnage from inadequate or improper nutrition/hydration becomes apparent relatively soon into the race. I’ll leave those details out here.
|Dina taking notes during the race|
|The race started here late in the night|
|From the sand storm we climbed|
|From way back there to way up here, via mind & body|
|Thank gosh for ice|
|Thank gosh for salty mashed avocado to help fuel our Sandy|
|From desert to mountain to finish|
And for this, I am eternally grateful and fulfilled.
|Crew with our Star Sandy|