Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Road to Badwater–Pt 6 Stovepipe Wells

This is part 6 of a series highlighting an ultra-marathon run by my friend Gregg Geredes
By Gregg Geerdes

Stovepipe wells to Townes Pass (42 – 59) - Uphill and into the wind

Coming out of Stovepipe I was a new man, but the continuous uphill and brutal hot wind of this section quickly beat me back down. From here on out I would have a pacer to keep me company. Cal, Gord and Mike were my primary pacers. They each switched off with me on my way up the mountain and throughout the rest of the race. Each of them would run over a marathon in addition to all their additional duties as crew. Having a pacer gives you that comfort feeling that you’re not going into battle alone, and that is a good feeling. (Note: pacers are allowed after the 17 mile mark, but must stay behind the runner, I had opted to run alone up to this point, since I knew I really would need them for the next 95 miles.)

Photo: Uphill and into the wind with Mike

Dave was doing his best to keep me eating. I had eaten an almond butter and jelly wrap during the last section and now he was trying to get me to eat a humus wrap. He talked it up as the greatest humus sandwich EVER. I didn’t have an appetite, but Dave was talking up the sandwich so much I had to have it for his sake. That is an important part of crewing, knowing how to motivate your runner to eat. By the way the humus wrap was horrible, Dave had poured have a shaker of salt on it. It hurt his feelings a little when I spit it out, but he made me another wrap and we were buddies again.
While hiking up with Cal (I said hiking, since my general strategy is walking uphills, running downhills and running as much as I can on the flats) some small clouds came out. It was a great relief to finally have the sun off me, even if for only a few seconds. The temps were still very high and so those moments were golden. At about 3,000 ft elevation, I went back in the ice bath. In retrospect I should have had my first ice bath at around mile 25 – 27, but since I waited till mile 42, I needed this 2nd dunk on the way up the mountain. During the climb Gord asked me what I needed, I yelled back that I needed him to get me to the top of this miserable mountain and he did, but it cost him dearly.

Gord had been pushing himself extremely hard for the past month at work and with his new baby. He was beat down coming into this and in giving me everything he had to get me up the mountain ended up putting him down. Cal and Mike would need to carry me through the night. (Note: my crew didn’t let me know this happened until a couple hours later, possibly hoping he would come out of it. When I found out I asked him to rest, because I knew I needed him to be strong for the finish.) Nanc took Gord for a rest at Panamint springs. She became the caretaker for the team. Whenever they needed rest, physical or spiritual, she was there. A blessing I didn’t even think of.
  • Lesson: Two are better than one
  • Lesson: There are some really tough hills out there
  • Lesson: Having people who really know you and your needs is vital
  • Lesson: If you make a mistake, learn from it
  • Lesson: You need a strong crew who will not only take care of you, but also take care of each other

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