To borrow a quote from Denise Jones about pulling off a feat like the Badwater Double: "The plan is...the plan changes" So with the best laid plans, you just never know what can happen on the course.
For Lisa and crew on the return portion of her epic journey, the beauty of this spontaneity and uncertainty was that a wonderful and competent friend never seemed far away.
Beyond her crew, there were five people in particular who really helped Lisa get the job done on the way back:
Ben and Denise Jones (aka the Mayor and First Lady of Badwater): Ben and Denise live along the Badwater course and were absolutely unceasingly generous in all that they did for us. Denise cared for Lisa's feet by taping them and draining blisters when necessary. Many an athlete's Badwater dreams have been undone because of blistering and other foot trauma, but Denise's expert foot handling really helped Lisa. In addition to footcare, Denise offered so much about educating and implementing van organization. Keeping a support van organized for over 300 miles is a huge challenge. For example, should Lisa (who suffers from asthma) have needed one of her inhalers, it was critical that a crew member be able to locate the inhaler in the van immediately. Denise helped make this a reality. She also was tireless in her efforts to keep the crew a cohesive, working unit. She put us up in her house and really made it feel like a home. In fact, I miss being at the Jones' right now! Her husband, Ben, a medical physician and Badwater devotee, visited us on the course and took many photos that are excellent (Ben is a gifted photographer). And Ben so generously shared his office in his house with me, which allowed me to get wireless connection and post to the Blog. Thank you, Ben and Denise - you give so much and we are sooo glad you were a huge part of this journey!
Phil and Kari Marchant: Phil and Kari are another excellent couple that have given so much to Badwater over the years. This year, Kari served on Art Webb's crew for the official race and Phil worked as part of the official race staff, serving as a time keeper at one of the race milestones. On the way back, Phil and Kari meet us on Saturday night and were absolutely phenomenal in terms of helping an exhausted and slap-happy crew continue to provide the care that Lisa needed as she piled on the miles. Phil jumped into crew mode and kept us laughing. Kari helped shuttle people around and replenish supplies. Kari and Phil are so warm and friendly and their uplifting attitudes were just what the crew needed. Phil, a talented artist, crafted the medal that Lisa was awarded upon completing the Badwater Double. I will get some close-up photos of the medal, but to describe it - it is a profile of the course that you can flip over to depict the true length of the Double challenge. Lisa was speechless when Marshall presented this beautiful medal to her at the finish line. Thank you both!
Nilsa McKinney: Nilsa and her husband, Frank (who buckled this year!) are dear, dear friends of Lisa and her family. Throughout the official race, Nilsa - who led Frank's crew - and Frank from the course, inquired about Lisa's health and well-being. And they kept mentioning that they would continue to help, if there was anything they could... well, imagine our surprise when 'anything they can do' turned into Nilsa flying from Colorado on Sunday morning and driving to the course to help crew Lisa to the finish line. I can't describe how grateful we were to see Nilsa and how appreciative we were of her assistance. Nilsa hit the ground running and literally did not stop crewing until Lisa made it to the finish line of the complete challenge. She calls Lisa 'Mama' and I could see Lisa light up every time Nilsa shared that love. The crew was completed knackered when Nilsa arrived (I can't imagine what Lisa must have felt at that point!) and her energy and competence will forever be remembered and cherished.
Thanks to each of you who helped in ways we never imagined, but so desperately needed!
Lisa Hugging Nilsa
Kari and Denise
**I am looking for a photo of Phil. Stay tuned!**