I finally arrived at Nardini Manor at 1 pm today. I parked in the gravel lot and walked onto the track to see what the changes looked like. Looks like a different world.
The whole southern end of the course is different, there's a courtyard where the thick oleanders used to be, and the curves in the track are different, there's a heated timing booth, the place where we turn around on the track is different, and at least a dozen other subtle changes. It looks great and as usual Rodger and Paul and everyone have outdone themselves. The new course is re-certified thanks to Frank's hard work.
After a lap to check it out, I picked up my race packet, set up my tent, and headed out to check out the changes and see who else was there. Nattu showed up just as I had the tent pulled out, he helped me set it up and then we went around talking to people.
My tent, all by itself. By tomorrow, the area will be packed with tents, a tent city inside a tent.
I ran into Andy, Ron, and Chris as I was walking out of the big tent.
Ron is one of the growing club of septugenarians who run Across the Years year after year.
I talked with Chris for a long time, he is doing so well. He sounds happy, he's doing all sorts of alternative oncology therapies, both for himself and for others. He looks great and he's doing everything he loves to do, and taking charge of his own well-being.
Chris O'Loughlin, race RN, my friend and the best listener ever! He helped me through nursing school with his words of wisdom and humor, and to this day, encourages me to keep on writing and sharing my insights on nursing, and to pursue all my creative endeavors.
The view of the track facing south.
The track facing east.
The new two-person timing booth with a heater for a room about fifty times bigger.
Lynn flew in from Ohio, where he moved last year from Phoenix. Here he is in front of his ginormous tent. I wonder how much the airlines charged you to bring that thing?
Looking toward the mountains that frame the southern end of the valley. At first glance it might look like we're in a prison camp, but after a few hours you don't even notice the chain link fence.
Some of the race goodies in our bags. North Face Borealis jacket, North Face shirt, Dirty Girl gaiters, Drymax socks and more...
Lynn and Don in front of the timing booth.
Zombie Gillian and Lynn share a hug. Zombie Don is on the right.
Debra and Nattu talk about Debra's 103 hour walk with Ulli this fall. Last year Debra taught me how to run a successful 48 hour race, lets hope I can remember all of it this year.
While we were at the track today, we saw a beautiful young tricolor Australian Shepherd prancing around, playing with the kids, made me think of my girls. Nattu and I watched and laughed at the dog leading the kid around the tent, and then ducking inside the tent while the kid continued circling around a couple of times, still thinking he was chasing the dog. The kid couldn't figure out where the dog was until the dog poked it's head out of the tent. Those dogs are so smart.
It was so nice to see everyone. Lots of new Badwater folks will be here this year along with the regulars.
On the way back to the room I stopped by a Walgreens and got a few of my pictures put on a CD so I could at least share a few. Instant gratification, I know...but what else am I going to do while resting and sitting on my butt until the race starts?
Here are some road shots from my trip down...
Where I stopped for gas, I had to stop and take pictures.
The next morning, between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
On the way to Arizona, on I-40 near Grants.
Alene Gone Bad, 2008 version.
Snow on the Mazatzals, beautiful!
My old stomping grounds, the Superstitions and Weaver's Needle, the birthplace of Bitchen Swill.
The bougainvilleas under the overpasses of the 202 and 101 freeways, that I got soooo excited about!
Driving by Fountain Hills, where we used to live, the McDowell Mountains on the right, with Thompson Peak in the middle. I used to run to the top of that every week.
Being here, it's hard to believe it's been a whole year since the last Across the Years. It feels like we leave a part of ourselves here all the time. It's like a family, and it's like a home. No one can ever understand unless they've been involved in this event, most of the volunteers and race staff feel the same way as the runners do. It's like you're missing a piece of yourself if you don't come back each year.
Time for more rest. Tomorrow is the day before my race starts.