Badwater 135 – 2015 Edition – Grant Maughan

For those out in the endurance racing world, running in Death Valley is one of those bucket list races. It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s defeated a ton people and made champions out of others.

This year, Endurance Racing Magazine wants to give kudos to those athletes and their supporters, who have provided updates on the great successes and lessons learned about Badwater. This article focuses on Grant Maughan.

Grant Maughan, who I featured in ERM a few months ago, is a prolific athlete, but his Badwater race didn’t go as planned. He went out fast but continued on until he just couldn’t. But his words are ones to remember:

“When someone asked me why I kept going at Badwater when I was half dead, I said “because half dead is also half alive”…it’s all about that glass…”

Grant’s statement is the type of thing you will hear from all endurance athletes. We go on because that’s really all there is to do. Below is most of Grant’s race write up, with the full write up posted on his blog, Dingofish Express.

By Grant Maughan
Endurance Athlete

The 2015 Badwater 135 is over for me. I am a wreck of a man but with only myself to blame.

I can’t believe I started let alone finished after my crazy existence the last couple of months which has run me down and made me feel a little older…though I have trouble admitting it..

At the start line I felt ok but knew I had been burning the candle at both ends for some time. Whatever made me jump off the line to clock 7-something minute miles into the desert I don’t know, but I was about to pay a heavy rookie price for my foolishness.

Grant RestingAt mile 5 I felt flat and listless. At mile 10 I only wanted to lie in the dirt and go to sleep. At mile 15 I was so dehydrated that my throat and mouth were like concrete…at mile 20, thinking I might faint, I crawled into the crew van and thought my race was over….the crew laid me out, rehydrated me and sent me back out. My stomach was distended as it was having trouble processing needed fluids and calories because all my blood was being sent to the extremities to cool me in the 106F heat in the middle of the night and your stomach needs blood to operate properly. This was the ghastly start to things I had never experienced before in a race and would set me up for the most uncomfortable 135 miles I could imagine. I threw up and my stomach went south and stayed there until the end until I could stop putting so much stress on all my systems. I had a splitting head ache from the dehydration that came and went and I felt listless all race.

I crawled through the first night and watched almost the entire 11 pm start wave leave me astern in a total funk. I clawed my way 5000′ up Townes Pass and when I got to the top I fell into the van and was asleep in three seconds. It was bliss for 15 minutes until I was shooed out and told to get me pass down the other side of the Pass. In a haze I stumbled downhill then something weird happened..I started clocking seven minute miles and passing a heap of runners. Some looked at me with pity as I clomped by in bone jarring strides wondering why I would trash my knees and burn out my quads in such recklessness. It didn’t even cross my mind. I had self destructed already so wby time I got down onto the floor of the Panamint valley it was a toasty 116F and the breeze felt like a blast furnace.

Grant MaughanI put on a wide brimmed hat and the crew laid a wet towel over that and one around my shoulders then pinned them in front like a Mary Poppins bonnet. I wore an ice bandana, a bag of ice under my hat and one down the front of my shorts over the femeral artery to cool blood. I also stuck some ice cubes on my wrist veins under my arm sleeves. I felt ok and almost ran the entire way to Panamint Springs before the next big grinding climb up Father Crowley. I had a decent climb up to Vista Point but my stomach would not stop revolting making my existence very uncomfortable, but I managed to pass a number of runners going up and passed even more on the climb to Darwin.

I was making progress but it was costly and I didn’t really feel like being there; at one point two F14 fighter jets screamed over me contour flying over the desert and I was so thrilled I yelled and fist pumped the sky. on the thirty long meandering miles to Lone Pine I ran as much as I could, ignoring the pain of some very sore blistered toes and souls as we picked off more runners as their flashing red lights appeared ahead. It was a relief to make the turn onto the Portal road and start that tough 13 million to the finish. I ran the first mile then put on my Teva sandals to give my toes some relief. At one point I sat on the rear bumper to rest my weary body and noticed the flashing lights of a crew vehicle just down the road…it scared me so much that i might get passed that I put my head down and power hiked as hard as possible up to the switchbacks then didn’t stop until I crossed the finish line in 30:02…broken but relieved to have kept going to the end when all seemed lost.

I had come from virtually last place to 9th overall, proving once again that you have to be a stubborn eastward to get involved in such pursuits.

The lesson I learned in the last 30 hours is this:

You may not get the day that you want, but it’s what you do with the day you get that determines if you have a strong enough will to determine the outcome.

A heartfelt thank you to my stellar crew who cared for me like their wayward child on a bender…world class endurance athlete Lisa Smith-Batchen, intensive care and survey nurse, Marie Boyd, who is also a fellow Aussie and holds many age group running records…and the incomparableWill Glover, a Badwater 135 finisher and a steady hand during a frenetic race…
It’s been 12 hours since I finished and I still can’t sleep…I have really used and abused my body on this one…
Congrats to all the runners, crew and race staff in amongst all the carnage and debris of runners left out in the desert are many memories now etched on us all.

Lisa Smith-Batchen’s post on Grant’s race:
Lisa at BadwaterGrant Maughan blew off the start chasing Harvey Lewis like it was a 10k race. We tried to get Grant to slow down but it was like telling Sea Biscuit the race horse to slow down!!!

Grant wanted to go for it and he did, but the 11 pm start was a different challenge on his digestive system.

By mile 20 Grant was forced to walk darn close to 40 miles as his stomach distress was just awful, and this was a first for Grant.

We had him lie down at the top of T Pass and sleep a while to calm his stomach down. Once he started going again, he was running down hill 7 minute-mile pace! Our Aussie was making a come back!

During the race, Grant never felt great, but what we saw was amazing iron will, fortitude and guts!!

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