I survived! This race is not for the driven It is for the obsessed!
The pain can be so unbearable at times you have to be obsessed with finishing! Driven is not enough for that amount of pain!
My quads started radiating serious pain after the first 12 hrs. I was only at mile 42. I remember thinking how can I be reduced to walking so early. But every time I tried to run the excruciating pain from my quads was too extreme to continue! Alex paced me all through the first night and kept my spirits high. Although all I could do was walk slowly while climbing the long towns pass mountain. With Annie and Heather working their butts off in support.
I kept thinking mile after mile that the pain would eventually let up so I could run again. I was passed by everyone in the 6:00, 8:00 and fina; lly the 10:00 waves. I am not a very fast walker and with the 120+ degree weather and 90+ temperature the night taking its toll. We were all concerned about me making the 60 hour cutoff.
I had been walking for 24 hrs and I knew I was in trouble. I had fallen over two miles behind the 2nd to last person. The pain was constant I knew this was a defining moment! I said to myself “Just what are you made of Bradley?” I told Nick who was pacing me at the time no more talking! I had to put 100% focus on blocking out the pain and attempt to run! It was my only hope.
When I started taking those first few steps it was like someone stabbing me with a knife in the quads. I had to stop and start a few times till I could do more than a few steps. I finally reeled off 10 minutes of real slow running at a level 10 pain. But guess what? After 10 minutes the pain began to recede. Nick and I started screaming and my speed picked up. We screamed more! And the speed picked up more. I got down to 8:30 minutes per mile and knew it was now or never. I would run till I couldn’t any more. After around two miles of running we saw the 2nd to last runners lights blinking in the distance. I was still flying relatively at a sub-9-minute pace. I told Alex in the van to go show them our colors. Let them know Bradley is coming out of the cellar! We ended up passing not one, not two, but three runners on that surge! You can definitely make up some ground by running mile 90 to 95 in 45 minutes in 100+ degree heat in a 135 mile torture race known as the Badwater!
I managed two more similar surges. One from mile 112 to 120 at about ten minutes per mile. The problem was when I wasn’t surging I was going extremely slow. At the start of the final 13 miles of the race. The climb up to the legendary Mt. Whitney portal, I had again fallen into last place being passed again by one of the toughest women I have ever seen, affectionately known as The French Lady. Later I found out her name was Mariane. She and her crew didn’t speak a lick of Eglish, only French. She got my respect on the first night at around 3 in the morning. Her crew was all huddled around her and she was bent over at a 90 degree angle. But she was moving sideways. Like a crab. The pain must have been amazing! But she wouldn’t quit! I felt horrible for her. But when she saw me she picked up her pace and crab walked away from me. It was amazing.
There was definitely a mutual respect of each team. They kept taking my picture when I would surge. I marveled at her consistency. I am pretty sure she never slept the second night! My surges had worked. They had put me out of danger of missing the cutoff.
After she passed me on the 2nd mile of the 13 mile climb up Mt. Whitney, I again was in last and felt like I had nothing left but a death march up the steep mountain. My feet were killing me. I had swelled out of 4 different sizes of shoes and could only fit in my sandals. Blisters were everywhere and my quads were still shot. My crew would have none of it!
Jim started soaking me every quarter mile to cool me down. And Michael jumped out of that van on a mission to get one more surge out of me to the top of Whitney. He kept screaming encouragement in my ear till my body started to respond and my pace kept picking up and picking up until I did one mile at an 18 minute mile up this gnarly mountain. Faster then I had been walking on the flat. People coming down the mountain were honking and screaming as I kept up this blistering pace for me up that mountain. I not only passed mariane. But also passed another runner further up the hill. I actually ran the last mile with Nick. When I crossed the line we were going crazy. I had finished in 56 hrs and 2 minutes with minimal sleep. But after they took our pictures my body shut down. I could no longer even walk and started shaking uncontrollably. They weighed me and said i was 20 lbs over my starting weight. I had 3 gallons of water in me! I was told don’t drink anymore water you have hyponuetrimia and are in danger of pulmonary edema, where your lungs fill with fluid and you can literally drown.
Even though I was peeing and taking lots of salt, me and my excessive genes were out drinking it! I was getting a net gain all through the race. I am pretty sure that is why my quads were shot so early. Remember what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and what finally kills you goes on the “He Died Stupid” tombstone. “Drowned in own fluids at the Badwater!” Not bad!
I want to congratulate my friends Dan and Vito on amazing races and thank them for coming up with their crews on Mt. Whitney and encouraging me. It was a real nice gesture and very much appreciated!
But mostly I want to thank my amazing crew. My always positive daughter Heather, the incredible Annie, the 75 year old wonder Jim, the 18 year old phenom Nick, Michael the magnicent and our fearless crew chief who kept it all together, Alex the great!
Everyone of you will be my friend for life! It was an incredible hard fought journey. But we finished the toughest footrace in the world as a team! Badwater! I am amazed we made it! It was so damn hard.
There was so much pain!