I returned from Death Valley, California this past Thursday after nearly a week of being away from my family. I had accepted an invitation from my friend Tony Portera to crew for him while he attempted the 135 mile journey from Badwater Basin to the Mt. Whitney Portal. While I felt fortunate and honored to receive his invitation, I was quite candidly nervous. I was taking this opportunity seriously and providing and caring for him seemed quite daunting as I had never crewed or paced at any race. Tony would now depend on me and the rest of the crew for his safety and success during the Badwater Ultramarathon, considered the toughest continuous foot race on the planet.
Our crew of 6 including Chris, Eddie, Herb, Meredith and Steve would be responsible for all of Tony's needs for what would turn out to be more than a 45 hour adventure through one of the harshest environments one can encounter as temperatures reached 128 degrees. Tony would take us on a wild roller coaster ride as he went through emotional highs and lows while his body spiraled in and out of near heat and other related exhaustion. I will write a second Badwater post with details on my crewing experience but for now I leave the specific details of Tony's run to him on I Run Ultras.
I will instead share my thoughts on what it meant to walk, run and ride along side my friend in Death Valley. One can say these are the types of experiences that can change a life, although I was not certain this would have the same impact on mine as completing my own ultras has had. While time is always the proving ground, I am now certain this unique journey has opened my mind.
The desert is brown yet full of life and color
Most Memorable Moment:
Tony had received a call from a friend as we neared Lone Pine with some 18 miles to go. Charlie Engle said something to Tony that night that worked. I do not know what he said but Tony said something in return that worked for me. Tony to Charlie "I am going to do it. I am going to get to the top of that f@#$%^&g mountain. I want you to know I look up to you and aspire to be like you...A Good Person!"
To My Wife:
My family is most important to me but sometimes we all need reminders. My most memorable moment was that reminder for me. Upon my return home I made sure to let Tani know that she is the kindest most giving person I know and she inspires me to be a good person. She gives me the courage to be kind.
Charlie for making a simple call.
Tony for speaking from your heart. Now you know what that moment meant to me as I walked behind you toward that mountain.
My beautiful wife for supporting my adventures and providing inspiration.