Now this plan was laid out about 30 minutes before we get to Lone Pine so I am really looking forward to my BURGER! So when Cath wanted us to wait for everything didn't quite make sense to me being as Darry and I would just be sitting there, watching/waiting, as well as Molly, so I made an over ruling decision! Here's how to work with your runner: We parked at the check-in, Darry and Cath arrive and we time check her in, then Molly walks her to medical and they go in the room, now is the time to Break! haha.!! Darryl, I said, let's go, she'll be fine.. and we jumped in the Mothership and went to refuel and get food. We were back before she was even out of medical, so I parked and we waited, eating the burgers and doing the HAPPY DANCE! After we finished a medical guy told us she was done and would be coming out so we walked over and took her back to the Mothership and she sat done for a few more minutes. Molly had went to grab the sandwich and wasn't back just yet but Cath was now ready to go. Sometimes the crew just has to work around the runner during there times of need. I told Cath I would start walking with her and Darryl and Molly could catch up, so we took off but just then Molly arrived so they jumped in the Mothership and we were off.
The Portal Road:
The road from Lone Pine to the finish is 13 miles and pretty much just climbs up in elevation. Starting at 3610 ft and finishing at 8360 ft! It's the last grind that will take you out of your can and leave you naked and wounded! You have minimal energy, your sleep deprived, your feet hurt, your legs hurt, your butt hurts and I'm not even talking about the runners! This is crew! haha.
The Portal road is also nice because its cooler in temperature simply because you are climbing up in elevation but also for us because the Sun was starting to set, but not soon enough as Cath once again found it straight in her face. Enough to remind her body that this is Badwater and the Sun is here to stay. Molly added some sun block spray to try and minimize the searing effect of the sun rays. She made her way through the setting sun and now it was time to put the night gear on for the last time.
About mile 126-7, Molly was with Cath and I noticed she was slightly holding her low back. Maybe it was to help her go uphill, maybe it was because it was hurting/tired/achy. I pulled up next to them and Molly asked if I could stretch out her low back as she was feeling achy pain so I pulled up a little farther, Darryl inflated a camping air mattress he had and Dr. John was now in the house! I laid the air mattress down on the side of the road, told Cath she would lay on it face up and Darryl would be my assistant in helping stabilize her opposite leg while I worked on the other.
I had palpated her low back while she walking so I could tell where she needed some Fascial Stretching so when she laid down, I quickly did some easy movements for her hips and then some easy lumbar rotation and glute/hamstring work. Then we repeated on the opposite side and finished with some long traction. I stood her up and as she got her balance I told her to start walking and see how it feels. I walked next to her and she said "Wow, John your the BEST IN THE WORLD!!!" haha... I don't think it was those exact words but she did feel much better and the achy pain was now gone. The best thing she did say was that she she really didn't think it was going to help but thought What the hell, give it a try and now she was feeling better and even her power walking pace had picked up. I continued to walk with her till the finish line, which I later found out was a good thing because my two awesome crew buddies were in a much needed state of rest.
As we approached mile 131.0 Portal road time check at 35 hrs 09 mins, we had 4 miles left and Cath was looking to finish in under 37 hours. I told her she could totally do it as we had just a couple of short steep switch backs then it would be just some uphill work till the last 1/2 mile where it would switch back again and then we would be 1/4 mile to the finish. One thing I wanted to make sure on the steep switch backs was that she took a couple of seconds to look down the portal road and see all the lights/hazards from the runners behind us and Look how far she had come today, as we could see all the way back to Lone Pine and Keeler. It's really an amazing view and encouraging for the runner to feel and think of there accomplishment, no matter how far out of brain reality they may be. The road then turns away from the great view and heads what seems almost into the mountain at night. I remember this is a camp site right before the last switch back and had mentioned that to her but didn't know how far it, turns out it was still 2 miles! oops!
She keep looking for that camp site and finally it was there. Molly and Darryl were on the side of the road for the last crew stop! They said they were going to the finish to park and meet us down the road. It's now becoming so real, we are almost there. The Mothership pulls away and as a crew member I am actually glad to see that thing out of site. We make our way around the last steep switch back heading up. I ask Cath, so, you think this has been a good race or bad? As she had said the day before it was a bad race, getting sick, heat issues, etc... and again still answers with bad and some good. I quickly point out that she has just came 133 miles through 115*, the worst wind I have ever experienced in crewing, she over came some serious stomach issues, experienced things she's never experienced before and its a huge success. Good as I made it all sound, she replies: And I don't want to experience it again! hahaha... gotta love Badwater.
We round the top of the switch back and heading for home. We see Molly and Darryl and they join in for the cermonal group walk to the finish. We all line up together and as we approach you can see the finish line tents, lights and some people. We yell out: "Runner coming in!, Runner Finishing!!!" You can see the finish line banner/tape! Cath jogs a little and the smiles start to come. Chris Kostman is there ready for the finish photo. We all cheer, others are clapping and we cross the finish line in laughter, joy and smiles.
Official Time: 36 hours 28 minutes 21 seconds.
Molly, Darrly and I all congratualted each other for a fine crewing job and Cath gives all of us a winners hug. This is the best time of the past 36 hrs 28 minutes! To see her and all the runners I have helped here make this point. It's like nothing else I've experienced. All the hard work and sacrifice Cath put in has arrived and the joy of knowing that she did it is the Best Ever!
Chris Kostman takes some photos of us, then he proceeds to award her the finisher medal, shirt and the BUCKLE! Then they take some photos and then we take our TEAM CATH FINISHERS photo.
Cath described this race as Climbing Out of Hell, and definitely the toughest race she's ever finished.
As we finished the photos we were all so tired we quickly headed back to the Mothership to take us back to the hotel in Lone Pine and get some rest. We all piled in the Mothership and off we went chatting about the awesome event from hell. Long story short when we arrived at our hotel, there was no person to contact and basically we found out there had been a confusion in the reservation and so we had no hotel. All sold out in Lone Pine, Bishop, Independence and Furnace Creek 118 miles away! Luckily, we found a room in Stovepipe Wells, 80 miles away and I started driving. It was late, after 12am and we wouldn't be there till almost 1:30-2am.. by the time we drove into Panamint, which hours before was alive and people were moving, was now a closed up ghost town. I pulled over and parked, I couldn't drive anymore, I was so tired and started seeing things on the road so I knew it wasn't safe. I woke everyone up and said unless someone else can drive, we are sleeping here. Luckily Darryl had been sleeping and jumped in and got us to Stovepipe where we slept. I was so tired, I just laid down on the bed, wrapped myself in the bedspread, kicked off my shoes and went to sleep, running/pacing clothes and all. I would shower 9 hours later after waking up and continue to celebrate the TEAM CATH FINISH!!
Super congrats Cath, I'll crew for you anytime!
The back of the Mothership.
Cath heading into Keeler overheating in the front seat, with a towel on her head and walking with the towel.
Thanks Everyone for reading along and I look forward to another crewing session next year or maybe being the Runner!