Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hi, everyone! It's now Tuesday afternoon. I returned home very early Sunday morning and am finally catching up on e-mail and voice mail messages and more. Thanks to those who posted comments, words of encouragement and congrats. We had hoped to update this blog throughout the race, but technology and the pace of things in Death Valley didn't make that possible. The Badwater.com website did a great job of keeping the outside world informed, though. It included photos, video clips and commentary alongside the official times through each race checkpoint. That's what satellite phones and a big volunteer crew will do for you. If you haven't checked www.Badwater.com, please do check it out.

This race was a fabulous experience. My crew was phenomenal, and kept me fed, hydrated, iced down and in good spirit throughout. Jared Knapp, Bud Petry, Nattu Natraj, Terri Pfeil, Ed Green and Dale Perry just couldn't have been more caring and supportive. (I wasn't always happy about getting food down, but they pushed and cajoled me to eat 200-250 calories every hour, so I lost no weight during the race.) Staying awake for 40 hours + was not a problem, except for a couple of hours of mild hallucinating that first night. I feel great, and even went to the gym for a light workout yesterday morning. Nothing broken, nothing overly strained. I feel good about my finishing time of 40 hours, 48 minutes, and 35th out of 80 overall. Frankly, as tough as the race was, I truly believe I could have finished in 38 hours or less had I not run into severe calf cramping early in the race--i.e., prior to Stovepipe Wells at Mile 42. That forced a change of shoes and these alternative shoes, in turn, caused major blistering, especially around my heels. Blistered feet for 90+ miles was no fun, and the discomfort, to use a nice word, reduced significantly the number of miles I could actualy run and the speed at which I could go. There are always the "what-if's" in these ultra races; no one is immune. Still, I might just have to try this one again sometime. Anyone care to join me?

We will post photos soon and hopefully some comments from the crew. I'll add some stories, too. Thanks, again, for all the kind support.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Did we ever doubt he would? Of course not, but in a great time of 40:48:35, he has buckled in the most extreme running race in the world. This is a fabulous finish for a first time competitor!

His journey the last 30 miles took him through Lone Pine to Whitney Portal which in 13 miles is all uphill to 4,600 ft. finishing onto the Mt. Whitney Trailhead. Bob was among the greats of the ultra running world and it was nice to see him finish among those who ran in the Inaugural Keys 100 just a short two months ago. http://www.keys100.com/
Among those who have finished are Alisa Springman, Anita Fromm and Alan Geraldi!

We look forward to hearing the details of his 40 hour journey and be encouraged by the 'JUST DO IT' attitude that Bob seems to have 24/7!

Don't forget to donate: Richard J. Fox Foundation

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Found Bob's Mug Shot!
In surfing Lisa Smith-Batchen's blog I found this great "before" shot! At http://lisasmithbatchen.blogspot.com/ you should also read about Badwater and if you scroll down a bit, has a nice blurb and video posting of Bob & Lisa!
This Badwater Shot taken before the race shows off Bob's always optimistic smile and excitement! We will post "During" and "After" photos as well, but wanted you to be reminded that Bob's challenge isn't just for athletic purposes but also to raise awareness and monies for Prostate Cancer. If you can support him financially, please do so now, as this is such an encouragement to the runners who run with a purpose. As they see the donations come in, it makes their efforts lighter and packed with energy. You can make a difference even in a small contribution. Don't forget to post a note to Bob here as well!

Update from Day Two!

The 31st Badwater Ultramarathon started yeswterday at Badwater, Death Valley, when 79 of the world's top ultradistance runners set off in conditions that favor fast overall times, with a slight tailwind and an expected high of 111F in Furnace Creek.

Bob started at 8:00am and quickly made Furnace Creek's 17 mile mark in 3 hours and 36 minutes. The next 7 hours put him 41 miles in at Stove Pipe Wells for a time clocked in at 10:26.

The next challenge was called Townes Pass (4956’), Mile 58.7 with a long ascent, then long descent, followed by approx. 12 long straight miles. It’s a steep and narrow road where vehicles, crews, and runners must be cautious and extra aware of the traffic. At 21:03 into the race, Bob acheived the 72 mile marker at Panamint Springs. GO BOB!!

At this point, he is at a high altitude and almost a full 24 hours into the race as the road continues to rise to 5000’ over rolling hills, then eventually descends into the Owen’s Valley. Bob made the next marker, Darwin at 27:06. He is now heading into Lone Pine and the last 40 mile stretch to the end. We may hear an update from Bob's crew later at this point and more details of how he is feeling!! We are routing you on Bob!

At Mile 122.2 Lone Pine offers the weary runner and crew all the amenities of a real town: fast food, pizza, restaurants, motels, gas stations, grocery stores, and more. Turn left onto the Whitney Portal Road to begin the final leg, the longest and steepest climb of the race. Temperatures will steadily decrease. They are prepared with extra layers of clothing and rain gear the final few miles.

Until then, we send the florida energy to you!!
...over and out from friend Helene & Todd in South Florida!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Updates from the road during "Badwater"

Modern conveniences. What modern conveniences? Cell phone coverage and internet connections are unavailable in Death Valley. Nevertheless, we hope to post updates on this blog as to how I am doing during the race. There may simply be fewer of them than we'd like. On Tuesday, part of my great support crew will be taking a break in Lone Pine, CA, at the base of Mt. Whitney--many hours before my feet get me there. In Lone Pine we can reconnect to the world! Updates will be posted to this blog then for sure, although we still hope to figure out a way to post info earlier. The official "Badwater" website, www.Badwater.com, will also post times as runners pass through each of the five (5) checkpoints along the route.

Please check-out this blogsite from time to time to see if we have figured out the technology--and to see how the race plan is going. I have 60 hours to complete "Badwater". A finish within 48 hours earns the coveted Badwater Ultramarathon belt buckle. I hope to finish in an aggressive time of 40 hours. Since the race starts on Monday, the 14th, we'll find out soon enough just how realistic that wll be!

Thanks for the support,

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Racing at "Badwater"--3 weeks until the world's toughest non-stop road race!

Dear friends and family:

Many of you know about my next athletic challenge, running in the 31st edition of the “Badwater Ultramarathon” (
www.Badwater.com) on July 14-15 in Death Valley. Badwater is named after the location where the race begins. “Badwater, California” is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. 135 miles and more than a day and a half later, the finish line is reached at the Mount Whitney portal at 8,500 feet. Two mountain ranges are also crossed en route, with a race total of 14,000 feet of elevation gain. Air temperature highs range from 120-130 degrees. Badwater is run on paved black-top roads, which themselves can reach nearly 200 degrees F. Due to the extreme nature of the race, each of the 90 competitors is assisted by a crew that provides the physical and emotional support required to keep the runner focused, hydrated and fed, and core body temperature under control. This team is also vital in dealing with the physical and stress-related issues that inevitably arise during this 40+ hour challenge. Note that I’ll be one of the oldest runners at 63 to ever start this race, and certainly one of the few prostate cancer survivors. Thanks to advancements in prostate cancer treatment that weren’t available when my father suffered with the disease, I am physically able to make the choice to participate in an athletic event like this. I will be competing against some of the most elite ultra-distance runners in the world. This will be an incredible experience, actually fun in its own way, not to mention an enormous personal challenge.

A year ago I committed to run this race if I could get in, and have been planning and training for it ever since. Death Valley National Park will only grant 90 permits each year to run the Badwater Ultramarathon, and you have to be chosen by Race Committee to participate. I was selected for 2008. During this past year, the real estate markets and my own employment situation have changed dramatically, but my family and I agreed that I shouldn’t give up my slot. There just might not be another opportunity to achieve this important personal goal. Direct costs of participation in Badwater are significant, however. Commercial sponsors in this market have been impossible to find. As in my previous major races, I will be raising money to benefit prostate cancer research, and once again I am asking for your help. 1 in 6 American men will develop prostate cancer; it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men. Real improvements have been made in treatment, but we are nowhere near a cure, still have not isolated the gene(s) that is (are) connected to the disease and have not developed a reliable test to definitively identify early-stage prostate cancer. If you or people you know are willing and able, fully tax deductible donations may be made to “The Richard J. Fox Foundation”, with whom I have worked since 2005 (
www.fox-foundation.org). For this race event, fifty percent of donated dollars will apply to offset my actual race costs until met, then 100% will fund the cause. The Fox Foundation has raised over $2 million to date to fight prostate cancer. Much of its funding has been donated to The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University for research and to local hospitals and clinics for educational outreach and free prostate cancer screenings. Checks payable to “The Richard J. Fox Foundation” should be mailed to: P.O. Box 2065, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33303. Thanks a lot for your consideration.

Some highlights of my “late-in-life” racing career:

2002—age 57—ran first marathon (“Grandma’s”, Duluth, MN)
2003—age 58—Boston Marathon (PR at 3:28)
2005—age 60—Marathon des Sables, 150-mile stage race in Sahara Desert, Morocco. Fully self-supported race, carrying own food and gear for 6 days. Discovered after 115 miles that I’d been running, then walking, then hobbling with a fractured femur. Upon return to U.S., surgery performed to insert steel pin and plate in right hip. Raised $30,000 for prostate cancer screenings and research in honor of my Father who died of the disease
2006 (January)—discovered that I had developed prostate cancer, too. Surgery to remove prostate in March.
2006 (May)--Climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,349 feet) at end of May, as planned with four others from Virginia
2006 (September)—completed first 50-mile trail race (Grand Tetons Ultramarathon)
2007—completed four separate 100-mile races (Texas, Florida Keys, Grand Targhee Resort (Tetons), Phoenix area); raised $40,000 for prostate cancer in connection with the Keys run
2007 (July)--crewed for friend at Badwater, then summitted Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states, at 14,496 feet
2008 (February)—completed 100-mile race in Texas—second year in a row under 24 hours
2008 (May)—created and directed inaugural “Keys Ultras”—100 and 50-mile individual races and 100-mile, 6-person relay, in the Florida Keys. Raised $50,000 for prostate cancer screenings and research
2008 (July 14)—age 63—to race the “Badwater Ultramarathon” in Death Valley, CA

Thanks, again, and warmest regards to you-all,

Bob Becker

Cell: 954-439-2800