Badwater 2003 continued
I trudged up the hill all night long, occasionally passing crew and runners who all gave each other great support. At around 24hrs into the race and nearly to the top of the hill, I decided to get a few minutes power sleep and try and get some more food in my system.
My body was now more stabilized because of the slight drop in night time temperature and it was only half an hour until sunrise again.
I finished my accent of the hill with the sun already overhead and looked back at the last 60miles of the road to hell. Only another 75 miles left to go!
My feet were now badly blistered and the next winding downhill section back to the valley floor was a refreshing change, but also very painful.
Down and through the valley of ‘the moving rocks’, the temperatures had peaked again and the crew was worried about the time it was taking to get through the race.
I tried to pick up my pace running towards the next checkpoint at Panamint Springs. Runners who had now pulled out were passing by with their crews shouting lots of encouragement, including the other UK entrant Wayne Simpson who had suffered severe dehydration. Wayne had tried to get back on the course three times, but eventually succumbed to the heat. They put six bags of IV in him at the hospital.
I knew I had to keep ahead of the game and get out of the valley and over the next mountain range as quick as possible without burning out again.
A long steep winding set of switchbacks took me up and over the range in a few hours, the sun still beating down with enough power to expand the steel barriers at the side of the road giving a ‘ping’, ‘ping’ sound.
Joe and I took turns passing each other along the flat road that would eventually lead us all the way to the base of Mount Whitney at lone pine. With about 40 miles left to go, the he night was coming again and James moved on ahead to get another pot noodle ready for me.
I was now totally exhausted and Paul explained that the distance I gained during the night would be make or break for me.
My legs were now in agony and my feet on fire with deep blisters. I decided that I had to regularly cool my feet in a bucket of iced water and change socks if I was to get any further.
Darkness came and I forced myself to run at a decent pace to try and eat up the mileage. Hour after hour Paul gave me an update on the distance covered and my goal for the next hour. I was slowly getting through the miles, but mentally I was exhausted.
Paul gave me some of his double expresso and I soon began to focus again.
Over 40hrs into the race and I was struggling to concentrate. In fact I wasn’t completely sure what I was doing. I started to hallucinate, seeing a vivid set of giant squirrels along side the road and rocks complete with chattering and smiling face’s!
I kept myself amused by tracking the numerous small translucent scorpions scurrying in and out of my path on the road with my head torch. The rocks and dunes continued to play tricks on me all through the night, but I was now making good time, and I was now more determined than ever.
Morning broke, and Paul said we really had a good chance now as long as I kept moving forward. I had even overtaken a few other competitors along the way and was predicted to reach Lone Pine at around 7am, which would allow the suggested 1 mile per hour required to get up the almost vertical 13 miles of Mount Whitney to the finish.
As predicted I made it into Lone Pine and civilization at 7am and luckily one of the checkpoint guys let us use his hotel room to cool of for half an hour before my accent of Mount Whitney to the finish.
It was going to be red-hot climbing the mountain and my crew were not taking any chances and covered me with wet towels from the start.
My legs were aching with the constant trudge up hill. I was now on autopilot, but knew that victory was just hours away.
Mount Whitney was beautiful. Waterfalls, greenery and an overwhelming smell of pine trees.
Joe came powering up the hill behind me and he was full of confidence as the end was nearing, Crews passed in their vans giving loads of encouragement, which made me more and more determined to finish.
After six hours of climbing the end was in sight!!!
Paul and James parked the van and joined me with a victory run across the line. I had made it!
I was also greeted with a bottle of champagne and a union jack by Wayne, who was back on his feet again after his IV who also walked the last few stages with me. His crew, who were clearly glad to see a Brit still in the race, helped us out with ice and encouragement, as everyone congratulated me on such an achievement.
I finished in 54 hours coming 40th in the field, which saw 46 finishers out of 75 starters.
This was by far the biggest test for me so far. I had experienced a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from the sheer shock and frustration provided by such hostile conditions, to the sheer elation and relief of crossing the finish line.
The support has been amazing by everyone involved in the race from the marshals to runners and crews.
This was an amazing personal achievement for me only made possible by having the best crew that any competitor could have asked for. Thanks boys, I owe you one!
For more information see the race website at
Badwater Double statistics and race archives are held at Badwater Ben Jones website at