The Road to Badwater Part 1

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You were meant to be reading this about 9 weeks ago, but don’t worry- it’s not you, it’s me.
I messaged Kirrily Dear and asked her if I could raise some money for Run Against Violence, and part of that was writing a couple of blog posts in the lead up to the race. She was pretty keen- I mean who doesn’t like free money- especially a charity? But I failed in that commitment- every week I had more things to do pulling me away from doing the things I had promised. I’m also late on 2 shoe reviews. Those may take a few years as I learn to use phrases like mid sole rocker stability and upper flange gasket peak pressure normalisation. I’m sure you’re gagging for me to make up 500 words about shoes. For now I’m writing this on a plane to LA…….

But anyhoo- let me talk about Kirrily’s thing for a sec. Kirrily has quite literally put her body on the line for this charity- she has run over 800km across NSW to raise awareness (and possibly a bit of cash). I hope you’ve seen the documentary about the run, it’s hard, emotional and brilliant story. This year she’s going even further, planning to run over 1300km to raise awareness of family violence, focussing on kids stories. And this time there will be a way for everyone to participate, as there is a ‘Virtual Challenge’ that you can sign up and run yourself.

So go to the website and hit the ‘Donate’ button. I’ll wait

https://www.runagainstviolence.com

That first run was brutally hot and I’ve had to lean on Kirrily’s crew for advice on how to deal with the heat of Death Valley. Brad Smithers and Sally Dean (as well as Kirrily herself) have given me some invaluable advice about running in extreme heat. See the segue? Brilliant hey?

So how did I get into this race? It’s one of those races you hear about even as a non runner- and laugh at the utter stupidity of running not only across a flaming hot desert, but from the bottom to the top of a whole continent.

I’d never even considered something like this but after dedicating a fair amount of time running, I discovered 2 things-

1. I’ll never be fast
2. I can go slowly for a long time

Number 2 is a consequence of hanging around with the right (or perhaps wrong) crowd. As I grew more and more amazed at the humility and capability of these incredible athletes, I began entering some of the same races and learning their craft. It’s simple and complex all at once- an eating competition with a bit of running sure, but tiny mistakes can take you out brutally.

Fast forward to last year and I’d done a couple of long and tough runs (still hadn’t finished the ‘long course’ at Coast to Kosci) and we went on holiday in the USA. We’d designed the trip around meeting some of Sarah’s friends and a few natural wonders along the way. It was a 10th wedding anniversary trip that started with renewing our vows in front of Elvis in Las Vegas, and went through Death Valley and Tahoe amongst other places. While in Vegas a friend announced on FaceBook that he had been accepted into Badwater. Maybe 30 seconds later (ok it could have been less) I asked Sarah if I could crew for him.

Understandably she wasn’t keen as we had blown our travel budget but I must have had that slightly pursed lip look of determination and she got that slightly pursed pissed off look, and we had a deal. I emailed Cpt Nemo and he accepted. Later in that trip I got to fulfil a lifelong dream of running in Death Valley. It was horrible. I’d brought some running gear and we had planned to let me out and have me run to the next town or whatever but it got to late-ish afternoon and so I jumped out of the car with my water bottle and took off. I only made it 6km as we were pressed for time, but honestly I was very happy to get back in the car. I’d taken a black water bottle. The outside temp was ‘only’ 32 degrees but within minutes my water was like drinking warm tea and the reflected heat from the tarmac was worse than from overhead.

Actually going back to Death Valley a few months to crew was fantastic. I had Gavin and Bec Markey as well as Matthew Holland to keep me company while Nemo suffered outside the car. But yeah, it was totally a recce run for me- to see if normal people could do this race. And maybe to see if me in particular could do the race. I wasn’t sure even a few months after crewing.

After being a bit aimless in my running for months I finally started to regain some fitness, Great North Walk was tremendously painful but I got it done. And while it was a real battle for me to finish Coast to Kosci, I was heartened by the fact that a lot of things went right. I’d had a plan to get to Dalgety at 148km and executed that perfectly. It’s a great shame I hadn’t considered what to do for the last 90km……

Anyway it came time to apply for Badwater in early February, and I had decent qualifiers- 2x C2K and a stint as Crew Chief for Badwater, I felt I had a pretty decent chance of getting in. We were actually in New Zealand for the Tarawera Ultra when Race Director Chris Kostman was doing a FaceBook Live stream of reading out the names. I was eating breakfast while Sarah packed the car and screaming at the laptop because Chris was taking so long to get the names read out- he adjusted his Gumby, showed the latest branded Badwater gear, talked about the sponsors- it was making me nuts because we only had 2 hours of free WiFi at the hotel!

He finally started reading the list, and I got chills just hearing the names of all these legendary runners participating, but as he went deeper and deeper I realised that I am totally outclassed by these people. I mean not even in the same stratosphere- and I started getting depressed. Sarah wanted to pack up and go, and as the list got towards the end I wondered if I should even listen to the rest, but we did and all of a sudden we heard ‘and all the way from Greenwich Australia, Adam Connor’

I jumped and screamed- I’d gone from confident to destroyed to elated in the space of a few minutes! my name was somewhere around 94th to 97th. Sorry I can’t remember exactly as my head nearly exploded from excitement. I reckon I can do a bit better than that in the race, gulp.

So I’m doing this race hoping to benefit Run Against Violence.
(And on a completely different topic)
But I’m also running this race in honour of my sister. She’s much stronger than she knows. Don’t bother asking me any more about this, it really is as simple as that statement. She’s great company, very smart, caring and wants the world to be a better place. I just want the best for her too.

Next post will be about the training, and the last one about the race itself

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