Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'M IN!!!!!!!

"Hello Steve!
Congratulations! You have been accepted to compete in the 2009 Badwater Ultramarathon, presented by AdventureCORPS, Inc. You are part of a select group who will participate in what is recognized across the globe as the world's toughest footrace."

I applied for the Badwater Ultramarathon in January. I knew I met the posted minimum qualifications. I had crewed for a runner there last July and knew I was capable of running the course. I had been awed by the talented runners I met there, the names everybody knows, Dean Karnazes, David Goggins, Charlie Engle, Pam Reed, Lisa Smith-Batchen.
I wasn't sure I fit into that category. I knew I wanted to run there, very badly. I was prepared to run on my own as a solo runner outside the official event.
I first ran in Death Valley in 2006. I absolutely love that place. It is the absolute opposite of northern Pennsylvania. Here is green and hills. You can not get a half mile from a road or a water source. There is brown and mountains and space. There is no soil on the ground, the sandy gravel crunches under your feet. Polar opposite but equally beautiful. Starry winter night and warm June sunrise.
I went back in 2007 and ran the marathon again. This time I spent a few days exploring and seeing more. So many times, I didn't even try to take a picture. Some things just don't fit on film.
When I came home in 2007, I posted my availbility to crew for the Badwater Ultramarathon 2008. I was contacted in a few days by Kelvin Marshall. Kelvin is Australia's best known and most prolific ultrarunner. He asked me to be part of his crew. It was a big blind date on both sides.
I agreed to meet two strangers in Las Vegas and then share a van with five people I'd never met. We would be bound together for a week. A week of 110 degree weather and the tension of a race. It was a good match. We bonded into a good team. We got Kelvin to the finish line in good time and healthy. We have kept in contact since then. Most of the teams scatter, like a one race stand.
I the time since, I have run more races. I have gained more experience and found some people who made a good crew for me. I was building toward my own Badwater run. I knew there was a selection committee that reviewed the applications. I had heard of some good runners that didn't get accepted. I applied, but I also made backup plans to run outside the official race in case I didn't get invited in to the big party.
Now how do I feel?
Like a dog that chases cars. Like I've got a tiger by the tail. I've put my name out there. Now it's time to walk the walk. Or run the run.
It's a "What have I done?" feeling.
It's a graduation, an acceptance into the big kids's lot. I was a shy, clumsy, socially clueless kid growing up. I was the last to get picked for teams in gymn class.
It's a "YEEEHAA!!!! Go for it!!"
It's a humbling feeling to have my crew members and crewmates say they know I can do it.
It's a motivator to do the work, the training, to be the most ready I can be.


  1. Nice posted Steve. Congrats on getting into Badwater. After spending that week with you last summer and seeing you "build" that resume I knew you had a great chance to be one of the 80+. I'll miss you not being with me on Team Kelvin again but I know you've wanted this and it is well deserved. Well have to share a beer in Death Valley this summer.

  2. Steve --welcome to blog-land!!! Now I'll be able to follow all your adventures, from car-making to hiking to trail running to badwater. Your boy scout cruse and scuba diving sounded wonderful -glad you were able to dive. Hope that you post some photos, also!! and major congrats on getting into Badwater --110-120 degrees sounds attractive after this cold winter.