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2011 Badwater Ultramarathon – TALON Athletes Shine

The 34th Annual Badwater Ultramarathon finished up Wednesday morning as 94 athletes attempted to run the point-to-point ultra adventure from Death Valley (lowest elevation in Western Hemisphere – elev 280 ft below sea level) to Mt Whitney, California (8360 feet) within 48 hours.  Extreme heat (reports of highs around 115 F year), 135 miles on pavement, and three mountain ranges provide a unique challenge unlike any other. Four TALON athletes were there to play!

Photo: Copyright Ron Jones and AdventureCORPS, Inc.

While the course remains fairly flat through mile 30, the blistering heat anxiously awaits to jump on your back. By mile 40 you begin the serious climbing and descending. The final 13 miles is a ~4700 foot climb to the well deserved finish at Mount Whitney Portal.

81 out of 94 runners that started this year’s Badwater Ultramarathon – finished!

Race director Chris Kostman with pre-race instructions. (Photo: Copyright Ron Jones and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

The pointy-end was won by Oswaldo Lopez (23:41:40) and Sumie Inagaki (28:49:27)! Congratulations to them!

The TALON Adventures

Rookie Badwater TALON athletes Kimberlie Budzik (TX) and Tammy Walther (AR) started in the 6 A.M. wave while Rochelle Frazeur (TX) began her 135 mile joruney with the  8 A.M. group. Badwater veteran Tim Neckar (5 previous attempts) started with the 10 A.M. wave.

Kim looking relaxed in the early miles. (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.

Tammy showing focused determination. (Photo: Copyright Ron Jones and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

At the base of the first major climb, Stovepipe Wells checkpoint (mile 41), all four TALON athletes cruised through with the following split times:

  • Rochelle Frazeur – 8h39
  • Kimberlie Budzik – 8h43
  • Tim Neckar – 8h48
  • Tammy Walther – 12h03

Rochelle tipping her hat to create extra shade. (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

Tim (#85) running the coolest pavement - the white line. Luis Escobar (#5) getting cooled off by crew behind him. (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

Midway up the first big climb, Tim Neckar was forced to drop due to piriformis syndrome that expressed itself mid-May during an easy recovery run and had not resolved itself completely by race day.

“I was doing everything for the injury except rest, which I could not afford, training for such an endeavor like this. I was getting deep tissue massages, a cortisone shot to the piriformis, and B-12 shots to the muscles, and prescription drugs.”

“I went into Badwater concerned and not very optimistic.  I figured that it would bother me for about 6-7 hours and then the nerves would quit firing and that would be it, like it did at the Lake Mead race.  Well, it didn’t.  Hamstring got tighter, which affected my stride and thus compensation took over, which then I knew it would be over soon.”

After an adventure filled 52 miles, Tim removed himself from the race.

No Man’s Land – The Middle Miles

Over the next 50-ish miles, the TALON athletes would climb ~5000 feet to Townes Pass, descend 3000+ feet into Panamint Valley, and finally worked their way back up another ~3000 feet before arriving at the mile 90 checkpoint (Darwin). Many of these miles were during the nighttime hours before witnessing their second sunrise of the adventure.

Darwin Splits (mile 90)

  • Rochelle Frazeur – 24h47
  • Kimberlie Budzik – 26h20
  • Tammy Walther – 30h27

Rochelle in a change of clothes sharing a big smile somewhere between mile 42 - 60. (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

Tammy (#93) maintaining high spirits within the middle miles. (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

The Calm Before the The Final Push

The next 30-ish miles included a gentler downhill (descend over 1000 feet) for ~15 miles and then a mostly flat run to the Dow Villa Hotel, the Lone Pine checkpoint (mile 122.3) which sits at 3610 feet elevation. Evening two approaching!

Lone Pine Splits (mile 122.3)

  • Rochelle Frazeur – 35h08
  • Kimberlie Budzik – 37h59
  • Tammy Walther – 40h30

Kim on her way to Lone Pine! (Mile 122.3) (Photo: Copyright Ron Jones and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

Dig Deep!

Less than 13 miles to go! Going…up! Badwater baby, the uphill finish.

4700 feet of uphill grind until the arrival at at the finish line – Whitney Portal! All three TALON Badwater rookies crossed the finish! How ya like that?!?

Badwater 135 Finish Time

  • Rochelle Frazeur – 39:30:41 – 9:30 PM finish
  • Kimberlie Budzik – 43:40:51 – 1:40 AM finish
  • Tammy Walther – 45:08:18 – 3:08 AM finish

An adventure like this is a team effort!

Rochelle and Team (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

How happy was Kim to cross the finish line? Awesome! (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

Kim and Team (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

Tammy and Team (Photo: Copyright Chris Kostman and AdventureCORPS, Inc.)

Complete Results

What an experience!

Congratulations to Rochelle, Kimberlie, and Tammy on some amazing finishes! And I have a feeling…Tim will be back!

Special thanks to Chris Kostman, Ron Jones, and AdventureCORPS, Inc for all the great photos you see above!

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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