"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." ~Edmund Hillary
Badwater. That race is in a category all its own. You really can't clump it in with other races. It's like apples to...mangoes.
Geof and I had the immense pleasure of joining our friend and fellow CHUG, Adrian Belitu, for his second running of the Badwater 135 in Death Valley, CA from July 12-14. When we got the call back in May asking us to join the crew, we immediately set about rearranging our schedules and vacation plans to fit a week of Badwater crewing in. As an ultrarunner, or even as a running enthusiast, you don't pass up an invite to crew at Badwater, you just don't. Boy were we excited! A crew of two is now a crew of four.
So, now what?
Heat training? Nah, nothing in the world can properly prepare you for the kind of heat you experience in Death Vally. Nothing. At least that was our experience. So I'm glad we didn't waste any time in saunas. If we were the ones running, perhaps a different story, but as a crew member I wouldn't worry with that. I'd worry more about getting enough sleep and knowing your runner!
Fast forward a couple of months. Lisa Smith-Batchen drops from the race due to a broken foot sustained during her 50 miles in 50 states adventure, so that means Ed Kelly and Terry Madl are looking for a runner to crew for. The sky has cleared, the sun has shone, and the angels are singing in harmony. We are going to have the most kick ASS crew ever! And then there were six.
Geof and I fly into Vegas, drive up and down the strip waiting for Jim's flight to get in, then we head towards the local wally world to meet up with Ed and Terry, who drove the 25 hours from Chicago in Ed's mini-van (aka Team Belitu Headquarters). After buying out Wal-Mart's entire stock of jug water, loading up on Gatorade, crew snacks, sunscreen and Tecate (c'mon, it was Saturday...still two full days before the race!) we began the 150ish mile drive to Furnace Creek, in Death Valley, CA. We made a couple stops along the way since we're touristy like that. Dante's View gives you a bird's-eye-view of Death Valley, and from there we could see where the race starts and where the road courses through the valley in the initial miles of the race. So that was cool.