Saturday, December 21, 2013
The Big Freeze on Badwater
So there will be no Badwater on the original course or anywhere in the park in 2014. The event will happen this year, 2014, on an alternate course near Lone Pine, until the National Park Service completes their review...
See the Adventure Corps statement about this.
What is sad about the decision to do a safety review is that it was not based on any particular incident. In a time when so many people worship the couch and their cell phones, why do we have to make it difficult for those who want to move and experience the landscape, fresh air, natural beauty, and push themselves to their limits?
The race has supported the Death Valley Natural History Association, pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, supported numerous charities, and become a classic of sorts in the ultrarunning community. Chris Kostman, the race director, has maintained a stellar relationship with the government entities involved, along with his safety record.
Chris takes pains to ensure that runners are safe, enforces the most stringent rules I've ever seen in any ultra, and provides a full group of trained medical staff to be available throughout the race course. He doesn't skimp on volunteers. He runs it as a responsible business, not out of greed, but out of respect: for the park, the regulations, the runners, the sport, the environment, the experience.
Anyway, I cannot say enough good things about the Badwater 135 and I sincerely hope that the decision of the Park Service will be to allow this event to continue into the future.
I am glad I had the chance to do it when I did. I am also glad I had the chance to be on the medical team for 3 years and be a small part of the reason for the success of the race.
I hope they will consider the evidence, and see how well this race has been managed, and decide to grant permits in the future without making it too difficult to hold the event in terms of expense and regulations, and other hoops to jump through.
Never take anything for granted.
There are many growing pains for the sport of ultrarunning. You can't expect things to always stay the same, the sport has evolved and exploded, which I see as mostly a good thing. But we need to remember the impact we have on natural areas, trails, wildlife, other humans, and so on.
In a time when so many things are influenced by politics, power and money, ultrarunning usually offers a reprieve from all that. But that's not to say those factors don't hover closely overhead.
I encourage my blog readers to write in support of Badwater 135's future.
Please scroll all the way down on the page I linked to at the top of this post to see the list of entities to write to: California's Senators, Congressman from the appropriate district, and the Secretary of the Interior.
If you feel strongly about the future of this event, especially if you have experienced Death Valley's beauty, please read what has been written on the website to lay out your arguments in favor of the future of the event, and include what this event means to you, how it has added value to your life and those around you.
The text of my letter in support of the Badwater event can be seen here.