Race report — Badwater Badass: NYARA’s Chris Rice

Team NYARA is super proud of Chris Rice for his amazing performance at this year’s Badwater. He finished 25th overall and which is totally badass! He gives the full report here. Enjoy!

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but figured that it was the Badwater, so I should probably get some details down.

To begin, this was the first year on the “new” course, which basically means that, instead of running straight out of Badwater to Mt Whitney, you start towards the end and do some out and back mountain running to make up 90 miles, then run the final 45 from the original course. While this avoids the most extreme heat of the course, it adds loads of elevation and 15 miles of unfinished dirt road running.

My training for the race was pretty much standard, loads of miles with little recovery time. In the last few weeks, I spent some time doing heat training by adding layers to hill workouts and doing some sauna workouts (very light).

I flew into Las Vegas late Sat night with my crew (more on them later), picked up our van, and headed to Pahrump, which was about an hour from the airport, but the last town before going into Death Valley. Got up Sunday AM and hit the Walmart for supplies and then drove another 3 hours through Death Valley to the registration at Lone Pine. Went through all of the mandatory meetings and then back to the hotel for sleep, my start time was 8:00 am Monday.

At 7:30, we were at the starting line, ready to run….had to get weighed in and take pics, then we were off. Right away, I was shocked at how fast people went out. I have seen this before in other runs, but I figured it would be different here…..we had 23 miles uphill directly in front of us. I was in the back of the pack as we made it to the top of the mountain, and both of my pads on my feet were hurting, so I took a couple of minutes to change to new socks and apply some new foot cream. The trip down was much better, started making up ground as people who had sprinted up began to slow down.

At mile 45, you are back in town, having knocked out the biggest mountain and now you can have a pacer. My crew started running with me here, and would be with me for the rest of the race. Layne and Stark took turns until we made it to Cerro Gordo, which is the next mountain and now at mile 59. Here Shaddow put on a pack with some gear and food in it, and also carried 4 water bottles. The sun was going down and we would not be back at the support vehicle for at least 4 hours. The climb was much more aggressive on a dirt/rock road leading up to the ghost town. People were really having a tough time now, the elevation was getting to them and we saw some napping, swaying, and vomiting at different times up the mountain. The top of the mountain was cool, but we didn’t stay long…..we started running back down. Quads are now very sore and feet are getting banged up on all of the rocks and uneven terrain coming down.

Mile 75 and back at the car. Finally sat down and ate a foot long Italian hero from subway. This was possibly the best sandwich I ever had. Drank a bunch of sodas, a red bull, and took a couple caffeine pills….and was running again. All of the caffeine had me going pretty fast and passing more people. My feet started feeling odd, so I stopped at 85 to check them out. Two large blisters on both heels, and 50 miles to go….not really the best situation….popped them with a pin Stark found and started running again. We got to the Darwin turnaround at 91 and my feet were really giving me trouble, I had not prepared well for this situation and we were not equipped to handle it. Luckily, one of the other support crews helped out with good moleskin, which I hoped would get me back to the medics on my feet.

The sun was coming up now and it was getting hot, much hotter than the day before. This part of the race was the hardest, without a doubt. My feet were degrading quickly, forcing me to run in the sand next to the road. I was running so slowly that my support guys could actually walk and keep up with me…the road stretches out in front of you very far in the desert, and you don’t feel like you are making much progress. My stomach had stopped accepting most sugar, so I was down to chicken soup, water, and cokes. The crew really got me through this section, keeping me laughing and forcing as much drink into me as I could handle.

Mile 122 and back in Lone Pine – and the medics. 30 min with two people working on my feet. They knew that all they had to do was get me 13 miles up Mount Whitney, so they hooked me up. Got me drained, cleaned, taped and padded up, even gave me a pair of brand new socks. I was out the door and walking up the mountain, and I felt really good now, passed a couple of people, even did a bit of running to stay ahead of an Italian guy who seemed to find a reserve of energy.

34 hours and a few minutes after I started the race, I finally crossed the finish line. Check one more item off the bucket list…..

I had a great time, great scenery and really interesting people out on the course. Everyone is extremely supportive of each other out there, less of a race than an endeavor. I didn’t’ “find myself” in the desert or anything, but it was a cool experience. In retrospect, I would not have prepared any differently. I would have brought more foot care equipment, but other than that I think it would be the same.

The most critical component of this race is your crew, without a doubt. This is more important than your training, your gear, and your food. I was lucky to have come out here with some good friends, and they really lifted me through the isolated moments of the race.

My most sincere thanks to my crew – Mike Shaddow, Matt Stark, and Jeff Layne.

I also want to say thanks to my wife and best friend Patty as well as my three sons – Peyton, Teague, and Asher – for supporting me through this experience.


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