My Badwater 146 Supported Solo: Running Down a Dream!by Dawn Lisenby on 07/26/18
This is the story of how one epic journey unfolded for those interested.
We arrived at Badwater Basin at 6:30 A.M. in prep for our 7 am start time. We were meeting our other two crew members, Tiffany and Walter, there and for the first time. After a greeting that felt as if I had known both of them forever, and a quick pic by the sign in our cool INKnBURN gear, I was off, choking back tears that I was finally on my way.
The first 17 miles went by fast as I ran it alone, continually evaluating my HR and how it was fairing with the high heat and humidity I could feel was present. My crew kept me cool and we adjusted to what was working and what was not. I came into Furnace Creek a little after 11 am right where I wanted to be.
The next 25 miles were the hottest of the solo. With temps reaching 125 (well at one point the thermometer just had —- so it may have reached higher) with a reading of 136 off the pavement. I was still running well and my crew did an outstanding job of keeping me cool. Walter and Tiffany traded out pacing so they could continuously spray me down the last and hottest stretch before Stovepipe Wells mile 42.
Carla and Heather began to have heat stress just performing crewing duties and Walter as well became stressed to point of cramping after running with me. I had planned a break at SW for regrouping and cool down and knew it now was more essential than ever to get us all out of the heat. We arrived at SW at 6:30 pm again right on target.
Little did we know how fortuitous this would be. As my crew ate and I rested a massive sandstorm blew in with winds gusting to 20-30 mph. It lasted for 2 hours! It delayed our departure but We were SO happy not to get caught in it.
At 10:30 pm I began my climb up Towne Pass. I was feeling tired but determined to get it done and into Panamint by early am so my crew could rest there after our 4 hour delay due to storm. The miles clicked off as crew switched off pacing me. Carla spent most of the decent with me as we laughed and swatted bats away from our face.
We got into Panamint Springs Resort mile 72 at 7 A.M. , found our tent cabin and all crashed hard for an hour. It being hard to sleep due to heat, but our first rest in 24 hours. After a shower, change, resupply, food and a fixing of my feet we were off at 12 pm.
Father Crowley climb was one of my favorite sections of the course. I felt strong and enjoyed my time spent with Tiffany as we made it quickly to the top under a rain shower. While my crew waited for me they got to experience the fighter jets fly through the canyon.
Once at the top I was treated to the unexpected surprise of my friend Brad and his wife Andrea coming out to lend their support. It was a big lift for me to get to run a few miles with Brad and fitting as he has been a big inspiration for my completing the solo after years of watching his adventures in the desert and BW races.
I arrived into Darwin mile 90 at 7 pm feeling good but tired. I decided to make a clothing change and take a 15 min nap before heading into the night. I truly love this section of the course,, with Joshua Trees, mountains and stars. OMG the stars. At one point I had to ask my crew if I was hallucinating because the sky looked three dimensional. We even witnessed a meteor streak across the sky.
As we moved closer to Lone Pine I began to feel incredibly fatigued . I was getting into unknown territory mileage wise. My feet were hurting, feeling like the bottoms of them had been burnt as they were tender to walk on. My crew traded off going into rooms we had there so as to get some much needed rest. I was ready to get into LP and rest myself. I was hallucinating turtles from sage brush and that I was on a conveyor belt of a road merely moving in place.. With 8 miles left I succumbed to the need to sleep and took a 15 min nap. It made a world of difference.
At 5:30 A.M. with an end to the longest road ever in site I was treated to a visit by a HUGE hero of mine Badwater Ben Jones. I told him he was a light at what had become a very dark tunnel.
We got into LP mile 122 and our rooms at the Dow Villa at 7:30 A.M. I planned to rest, regroup and secure permits here for our summit attempt early Sun am. After a three hour nap, a shower and a burger/fries at The Whitney I felt rejuvenated and ready to go.
At 8:30pm we began our climb up to the Portals. This again went very fast as crew traded out with me every 3 miles and I was feeling strong. Before we knew it we were at the top, arriving at 12 A.M, 135 miles in. After securing our food etc from car in bear containers and loading up our backpacks with food and hydration for our summit we were on our way at 1 A.M.
The Whitney Trail is just gorgeous. So many beautiful wild flowers, trees and most incredible rocks. I rocks. We also had a deer sighting just steps from us on trail eating and not disturbed by us at all. To be out there under the moon and stars was just magical as to be expected. What was not expected were the number of water crossings we had to make due to rain and snow melt the past few days, and wet feet very early on that slowed our progress.
As am approached and we reached base camp Carla and Walter began experiencing attitude sickness with headaches, and for Carla nausea and dizziness as well. With their slowing the decision was made for the group to separate to ensure the safety of Carla and successful summit.
The climb to the summit was arduous and long, with scramble over rock on legs with 144 miles in them. Walter and Heather kept me focused and safe as we made our way slowly to the top finally reaching it 14, 508 ft high at 10:30 A.M. I cried and hugged my gal Heather for what we had just accomplished and months of prep to this moment sank in.
It was bittersweet tho as two of our crew were not with us. As we prepped me to get back down two people came in and asked if we were part of a team as there were two other girls just 40 min back with the same cool leggings as us. We were ecstatic that Tiffany and Carla were going to make it to the top as we had not seen them in hours. After many tears, hugs, a few pics, and a summit dance party, we moved to get down as we knew a storm was approaching.
It was slow going as we scrambled over rock, looked for trail, filtered water and tried to not fall asleep while on a ledge many feet up. As we approached the front side of the mountain the storm blew in and we tried to quickly descend as we were pelted by dine size hail and lightening cracked around us.
Finally, we got to base camp which was flooded. We struggled to find the trail because it was so under water. Moving became essential to staying warm. Eventually after many more water crossings and switchbacks we found our way at the bottom, 18.5 hours after we started. Yes that is how gnarly this 22 mile round trip was. We arrived back to our car Sunday at 9 pm.
My solo was completed in a time of 75 hours and 30 min for the 146 miles from lowest to highest point in the 48 states. The additional miles coming down for a total of 157 are just bonus miles.
I could not have accomplished what I did becoming the 273 documented supported solo, 33rd women without the help of my crew. My success is really due all to them. I also could not have run as happy without the superior products of my sponsors. My feet, besides being burnt were great! Thank you Trail Toes! My nutrition was SPOT on. I NEVER had any issues with my stomach. Thank you Skratch Labs! And I ran CHAFE free in the most comfortable, good looking apparel I have ever run in. Thank you INKnBURN!
I am forever changed by this journey in so many ways. Mostly by marveling at the beauty that is out there to experience and the incredible capabilities of the human mind and body that I will continue to explore.
Thank you to all of you who cheered me forward and believed in me. Never give up on your dreams!!