by Deena Kastor | Jul 12, 2010 |
The craziest, most insane runners are gathered here in Death Valley right now. I feel way too conservative in this company of ultrarunners. I am typing this from 282 feet below sea level at the starting line of the Badwater Ultramarathon. It is 5:30 am and already over 100 degrees. Consider me the “freshman” in a very experienced crew helping Shannon Farar-Griefer earn another race buckle once she makes the 135-mile journey to Mount Whitney Portal. Some runners will even go the extra 11 miles to summit the mountain that peaks at 14,495 feet altitude.
Our crew vehicles are packed with ice, food, drinks, Chafe Free, headlamps and flashlights, medical supplies and a second pair of running shoes in case the soles of the first pair melt on the black asphalt. It’s hot here.
To follow this race, visit www.badwater.com. Why am I here? It is certainly not because I ever want to run this race. I am here to help a friend, of course, but I am also curious as to what it is in the human spirit that pushes people past the point when their entire body is screaming to stop. I want to know the self-talk that goes on and wills a runner to continue when muscles are spasming, organs are failing, they can’t form complete sentences and their body temperature is a dangerous 104 degrees. This is the Tour de France of running, an epic journey of human spirit and fortitude.
Next week, I look forward to sharing the stories that come from these wacky three days across an insanely hot stretch of land. As the runners take off, the many crew members are left at the start line looking up the rocks at the sea level sign. It is going to be a long few days ahead. By Tuesday near midnight we will all be tired, malnourished, overheated and extremely close to one another! I look forward to sharing it all with you.