Badwater Salton Sea 81 mile inferno from Salton Sea to Mt Palomar, California.
slogan: “I’ma B*tch, I’ma Boss, I’ma shine like gloss” – Doja Cat
Team Members: Runners Dr Kaz Williams, Molly Sheridan crew Bailey Sheridan, Becky Preble
We came with our light sabers and lip gloss and we conquered (mostly!) the tough burning inferno that was Badwater Salton Sea. This year happened to be one of the hottest years of the race.
Dr Kaz and I gave each other big hugs at the start line watching an incredible sunrise over the Salton Sea. We were filled with excitement, joy, and respect for the adventure ahead. Standing with 35 teams of 2 or 3, several feet below sea level, getting ready to run together (not a relay!) to travel over two mountain ranges to the top of Mt Palomar, 81 miles. Race Director, Chris Kostman, gave a start line speech that was inspiring and magical. In that moment his words brought us all together. Game on!!
It started out hot and just got hotter!! Our team was positive and determined with the plan of trying to keep cool with temperatures rising. I was shocked to feel so overheated early on. Reno Nevada had a long-frozen winter, and I was suddenly running in 105-degree temps. Four hours in I felt horrible and started throwing up my guts. Kaz was still strong, but my pace was dragging us down. Rules of the race are that teams need to stay together. I knew that if I couldn’t pick up the pace, we would miss cut-off. We had a quick team meeting on the side of the road (as I barfed). Race Director Chris Kostman came over to our crew vehicle and told us that pushing yourself past the point of no return was dangerous in these temps. I knew that I had to drop now in order for Kaz to still compete and make it to the cut-off. I was so disappointed to drop but was able to join Bailey and Becky to crew Kaz, well, it took me several hours lying in the back of the crew vehicle before I could physically rally to crew. I was so happy Kaz was still in the game. Runners out on the course were really struggling. The 35-mile aid station looked like a war zone with runners lying down and teams frantically trying to cool them off. Bailey and Becky were warriors battling the heat to do a non-stop job. I have always felt that crewing is sometimes a harder job than running an ultramarathon. Kaz was the super-hero, and the warriors were flinging ice down her arm sleeves, under her hat while dousing her with sunscreen every few miles. I am happy to report that I came back from the dead by nightfall to give some relief to the crew. Kaz was a machine. I was so inspired to see her grit and determination when she got to the trail section by nightfall. At 2am the Superhero started to crack. I think I heard Kaz say something to the effect that she didn’t know if she was going to be able to keep going. Knowing she had to cover 30 more miles, having done 50 difficult miles in horrible temps was a tough reality. As Kaz waivered at the crew vehicle, Bailey calmly replied to her, “Okay, So the next check point is where we have to text the Race Director and let him know you reached Lake Henshaw. Are we good? Good. See you there”.
Kaz started running again with no comment. Everyone knew the long road climbing Mt Palomar was going to be the final difficult challenge. Straight up for 30 miles. Kaz kept running, we kept crewing. Through the night to early morning, and suddenly…there was the finish line. One runner from our two-person team crossed the line but all of us celebrated. A team means everyone does everything they can for Victory. I did my best with no regrets. I am so proud of Kaz, what an incredible teammate! And, so proud of Bailey, Becky and myself pulling together to make it happen. Congratulations to all the runners and teams of Badwater Salton Sea 2023 who made it to the start line. The finish line is never guaranteed. You can only do your best, problem solve, and keep battling it out. Oh, and our team song that we sang throughout helped as well. I’ma B*itch, I’ma Boss and I shine like gloss……