What a Trip! Crewing at Badwater was a mind blower this year! After crewing for Bill Andrews in 2008 then running it myself in 2009, it was great to be back to that incredible race in 2012 crewing for Cath Todd, Australian native living in Dubai. I met Cath at my Rio Del Lago race a few years back. She is a talented runner. I saw her at La Ultra The High last year where I completed the 138 mile non-stop race through the Himalayas (that’s another story!) It was great to hook up with Cath yet again at another awesome venue.
My good pal John Vigil got the crew together for Cath with Cath’s pacer and friend Daryl Chiles.The four of us were Tean Cath!
I forgot how brutal this race can be. Cath pounded it out with grace and ease. She powered through to Stovepipe Wells then had her first stomach issues shortly after the 40 mile mark. John and I loaded her up with an Isagenix shake which did the trick. I remember at The High when I had similar issues and that power packed shake diluted with water got me to the finish. I was really happy to see the same results for Cath. Running in over 115 degrees in Death Valley is a tough ordeal. Getting nutrition to work for you is a fine balancing act. Isagenix products really are amazing.
It was great hangin out with John Vigil who is the best crew person around. That guy can hang in there at the toughest times and always keeps a positive attitude. He is one of the few people I know, like myself, that can actually stay awake 36 hours straight with no sleep. We must be mutants!! I get wired out there, and completely inspired watching all those athletes persevere under tremendous conditions.
I am proud of Cath Todd for finishing in 36:27. What an accomplishment. I am also proud as her crew member for being able to assist and be a part of such an amazing journey. Daryl Chiles was a great pacer and crew member! When the hours got late and we all were tired, hot and miserable, keeping our runner going, John Vigil turned up the music in the van blaring out disco tunes. He suddenly turned into John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. I was hysterical laughing watching John and Daryl turn into Disco Fever dancers, shaking their booties with there flashing lights in a moment of utter absurdity. That’s what happens when you are pushed to the limits of physical endurance, you either turn into a raving lunatic and just completely lose it or you embrace the hilarious and wacky moments and use comic relief to get through it all!! I prefer laughter to get me through!
There were tough moments. Don’t get me wrong. When Cath was down and out and in the back of the van trying to recover from heat and dehydration there were serious moments when our crew, Team Cath, had to problem solve and get down to the serious business of balancing safety and positive solutions to keep our runner going. It is a huge responsibility. None of us took that responsibility lightly. But, we all had endurance running experience. We have all been to those moments of despair when you don’t know if it is possible to continue…but then, you do. That is what we brought to Cath…confidence when the moment seemed dismal. Team work and support counted when she was out in the dark wondering how it was possible to carry on. I remember those moments when I counted on my team to get me through. We didn’t fail Cath.
It was good for me to be on the other side of running this week. Instead of being the runner, I was the support. It made me remember how hard it is to crew someone. Why do we volunteer our time, leave our families and sacrifice ourselves in heat and misery for 3 days? Why? Because we are giving back to a sport that raises the human spirit. We take with us the inspiration and satisfaction that we helped get that runner to the finish line. We are involved in something bigger than ourselves. You don’t think about your bills, your small problems at home…you are reduced to human life on the most basic level.
It was an amazing adventure….now, tomorrow I leave for the Himalayas! back to the land of enchantment…. more later!