Monday, July 31, 2006

To Lisa's Clients!

Lisa just called me and asked that you understand that she will not be able to contact anyone before this Wednesday. As you can imagine, she's a little tired and making her way back home.


Lisa Finishes the Badwater Double!!!

I am ecstatic to report that Lisa completed her Badwater Double Challenge this morning at 6:50am Pacific time.

We'll post so much more about this, but for now - just wanted to share the GREAT NEWS!!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Word to Our Sponsors!

Lisa and crew were so grateful to have the benefits of some really incredible products from some very generous sponsors. I have taken lots of photos and would like to thank each sponsor by sharing a photo of their product in action over the past week. I have more photos which I will share at a later time, but I know how important it is to Lisa that she express her gratitude for this generosity…and as they say, hopefully a picture is worth a thousand words!

ArcticHeat Ice Vest
High Range
Designs (they screened the logos onto our tee-shirts)
Injinji Socks
Kinesys Sunscreen
Life Wave
Nathan (hand-held bottles and awesome daypacks!)
Oxy Socks
Salt Stick
Smart Wool
Sunday Afternoons Desert Hats (great protective sunhats!)
Sun Precautions (great protective sunhats with longer back flaps!)
Uptime (energy drink)

Blog Postings This Weekend

Colleen here.  Just wanted to let you know that after today,
my postings to the Blog will not have photos. Tonight we
start the trip back to Badwater, so I will not have an
Internet connection.

But do stay tuned…I will still post messages.
Thanks very much!

Lisa and Crew Victoriously return from the Mountain Top

After reaching the highest point in the contiguous United States, Lisa and her crew (Marshall, Jackie and George) began their descent to start the second half of the Badwater Double Challenge...

At about 5:30am this morning, Lisa and crew arrived to the Whitney Portals. This location marks the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit and the finish line of the official Badwater race. It also marks the point wherein Lisa has exactly 135 miles left of her journey to complete the Badwater Double Challenge. And all indicators read that she will do just that!

So a little about Lisa and crew's successful summit of Mt Whitney (thanks to Jackie Florine for providing a lot of the details I am sharing in this post):

Lisa demonstrated an incredible amount of courage for returning to the trailhead to make a second attempt at the summit. Not only was it courageous to return, but it was downright remarkable that she returned so quickly after her first attempt. Barely five hours had elapsed from the time Lisa returned to Lone Pine and the time she began the second attempt at 12:30pm today. The astounding fact is that Lisa wanted to make the window of time even smaller, but Lisa and crew needed to wait until 12 noon to receive the necessary permits to climb the mountain.

The second attempt brought a lot of nice surprises. Lisa and crew were met with a perfect sunset summit. There was no wind and no other climbers in view so the four got to savour the accomplishment intimately. Lisa, Marshall and Jackie celebrated the summit in reaching the halfway point of Lisa's Badwater Double Challenge and recognizing George's first ascent of Mt Whitney. George, for all you do for Lisa, I know she will be so glad to have the memory of sharing your first summit with you!

Jackie was quick to share that the ascent and descent were not without its set of challenges. The goal that was set and achieved was to keep the summit attempt simple. The crew let Lisa assume the driver's seat and they gently followed her and offered patient counsel when necessary. Lisa appeared to thrive on this display of confidence from her crew.

As for nutrition, the crew also sought to keep this simple for Lisa. Denise and Julie had lovingly prepared sandwiches cut into four squares and Jackie simply presented a little square to Lisa on the course, with the elegance one might expect when dining on tea sandwiches at Harrod's. Our girl Lisa eats in style, even on a mountain!

As an accomplished mountaineer, Jackie remarked on Lisa's prowess as a climber. Lisa faithfully committed to keepin' on keepin' on - only allowing herself short breaks. Jackie remarked on Lisa's focus - and the fact that she never lost her intention for even a step on the mountain. Jackie was impressed at Lisa's ability to deftly change her footwork on the mountain, explaining that footwork on the road and footwork on a mountain are very different.

Lisa's successful summit is extraordinary in so many ways. Burdened by the weight of sleep deprivation and the exhaustion that accompanies the physical exertion of completing the 135 mile Badwater race and throwing in a first attempt that brought Lisa up to the 12,500 ft elevation mark on the mountain - Lisa bagged this peak against all odds.

And the remarkable thing is that her body does not look any worse for the wear. Denise's taping job continues to hold up and protect Lisa's feet. Her legs are tired by relatively loose. I am beginning to suspect that perhaps Lisa truly is bionic. But that implies she's robotic and that is certainly not true. Lisa's every step forward on this journey is original and done with love - love for her own family, for her friends, and for the kids who need our help. By the way, check out information on how to donate - your money can do so much!

Lisa is now sleeping in the back of a van parked at the Mt Whitney trailhead. As the sunrises, so will Lisa and she will make her way back down to Lone Pine. There she will take a rest in a proper bed and recharge as she makes her way backwards through the Badwater course.

If you read this and have any inclination to leave a comment, PLEASE DO! I can't guarantee I can get this to Lisa on the course, but I know she will read these comments next week from her laptop in her kitchen and smile knowing you have all sent her your support and encouragement.

Way to chase your dream, Lisa!



Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lisa and Crew Reach the Summit of Mt Whitney

Hello - GREAT news!

We just received word that Lisa and her three crew members (Marshall, George & Jackie) reached the Mt Whitney summit at 9pm Pacific this evening.

Lisa is giving new meaning to the term BADWATER DOUBLE - she's a champ.

Stay tuned for details of their ascent (and descent).

Thanks for all your kind words. I have been passing these wishes onto Lisa verbally when I see her. She loves them!



Was Crew Member Finlay Woodruff's Birthday Just Yesterday?

Its hard to believe that Finlay just celebrated his birthday feels like so much time has passed already! Just wanted to share an audio clip from Finlay, before he set out for Mt Whitney yesterday.


Lisa's Feet

It has been my privilege to get to know Denise Jones and her husband, Ben Jones, over the past few days. They are incredible people! They have long been a part of the Badwater race - as participants, as crew members, as roving photographer, as blister queen - you name it, they've done it. This year, they have been incredibly generous in sharing their wide and varied skills - and their beautiful home - with Lisa and our crew.

Denise will join our crew for the return trip and we are so looking forward to that. On the way to the race finish line, Denise took care of something that was hands down critical to success - taping Lisa's feet and ensuring a minimum in the accumulation of trauma that conditions like Badwater and multiple miles can invite. Lisa's feet are in an outstanding condition and she is so grateful to Denise for that.

Denise is a co-author of a book that is a great read for those of you who are interested in Death Valley Ultras and the crewing experience. After observing the crewing process for several days now, I can see up close and personal how Denise's book is not only very interesting - its very practical and full of information that will help keep runners and their crews safe and happy. Click here to read more about Denise's book Death Valley Ultras: The Complete Crewing Guide.

Lisa and Crew Off (Again) to Summit Mt Whitney

It takes a lot of courage to consider Badwater. It takes sheer determination to take on the challenge of the Badwater Double. But it takes a golden heart to attempt a mountain summit twice in the name of supporitng children in desperate need of help. Lisa is doing just that as I type this post.

After the unsuccessful attempt to summit Mt Whitney which ended early this morning (an attempt that Marshall calculates covered about 15 miles round trip), Lisa returned to Lone Pine and got some sleep. She then determined that attempting the summit would best be done in daylight and she grew determined that today was the day to bag this peak!

She began this second attempt at 12:30pm today. She is supported on this attempt by Marshall again, and two new crew members - Jackie Florine and George Velasco. Photos below - I will keep you posted on their progress.

Looking Back: More Details about Lisa's Road to the Official Badwater Finish Line

Just thought you might enjoy some audio clips
that give you a sense of Lisa's spirits and health
as she traveled through Lone Pine and to
the end of the Badwater official race course…
At Lone Pine, Lisa describes her comeback 
after having a really hard time with stomach issues.
And as Lisa approached the race finish line,
she offered me this commentary.

And finally, after crossing the official Badwater race finish line
and completing the course in 49:23:49,
she checked in with Lisa S. Bliss, M.D., Badwater's Medical Director.
Hear what Dr. Bliss had to say about Lisa's health
(hint: Lisa earned an A+!)

Update on Lisa's Whereabouts...

Thursday, July 27th at 7:30am

Lisa and five of her crewmates went for the Mt Whitney summit last night. Unfortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful. Lisa was befallen by altitude mountain sickness - her symptoms included a headache, pain in her ears, and nausea. The crew supported Lisa by bringing her to a lower altitude and by doing all that was possible to keep her warm.

Lisa is sleeping right now, but I know Lisa would want me to assure everyone from the start of this entry that all her crew members did a great job in supporting her and that each one of them made it through the attempt in great health. Crew member Marshall Ulrich remarked on the collective strength of the crew - Mike Artino, Pam Burwell, Todd Milbert, and Finlay Woodruff. Marshall also talked about the unpredictability of experiencing altitude mountain sickness - it could befall anyone on any given climb, even experienced veterans like Lisa and Marshall, both of whom live at altitude.

One thing has remained unwavering throughout this epic adventure - Lisa's commitment to the kids supported by the Religious Sisters Filippini. May this guide her forward...

I will post again when Lisa wakes up.

Thank you for thinking of Lisa and crew - we are thinking of you, too!


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lisa's Crew - THE BEST!!!

Prior to beginning the Badwater Double Challenge, Lisa often told me that she could not even contemplate this challenge had she not been able to assemble such a great crew. After seeing them in action for a number of days now, I couldn't agree more!

On that note, I'd like to recognize each crew member as we near the halfway mark in this challenge by posting their photos taken over the last few days. ENJOY!

Photos are in this order:
Mike Artino
Marie & Andy Boyd (couldn't join us for the return, but gave us lots of food and goodies for the crew - thank you for the nourishment and love!
Pam Burwell
Jacqueline Florine
Julie Gross
Todd Milbert
Richard Murdock
Bob Sitler
Heather & Marshall Ulrich (Heather couldn't join us in person, but she is here with us in so many ways! And Heather - Lisa loved your card! Marshall gave it to her when she was minutes away from reaching the end of her first 135 miles)
George Velasco
Finlay Woodruff

Looking Back - Some Audio Clips Collected at Mile 80 (Father Crowleys)

Thought you might want to hear some audio clips collected along the way to the official Badwater finish line.

Click here for a clip of Lisa's sentiments upon reaching Father Crowley's, the 80 mile mark of her journey. Its a tough part of the course and she was facing it after a tough night.

Click here to hear Lisa's sister when I interviewed her as she drove the crew van through Father Crowley's. Julie is discussing the value Lisa's crew has offered up to this point in the course.

Lisa and Crew are Off to Summit Mt Whitney

Hello everyone,

At 7pm on Wednesday, July 26th, Lisa and some of her crew members left to summit Mount Whitney. Their destination will leave them 14,494 feet above sea level.

Lisa is accompanied on this hike by Mike Artino, Pam Burwell, Todd Milbert, Finlay Woodruff, and Marshall Ulrich.

Between the end of the Lisa's finish of the official Badwater race and her start of the climb to Mount Whitney's summit, the crew gathered at a portal cabin where they ate cheesburgers, drank chocolate shakes, ate Finlay's birthday cake, and got in some well-earned rest.

Please think of Lisa and crew as they hike through the night. I'll provide an update on their journey tomorrow.


Encouraging Words from Dean Karnases

Click here for a quick message from Dean for Lisa.

Lisa Completes the 2006 Official Badwater Race

Hello Everyone,

I am happy to (quickly) report that Lisa has completed the 2006 Official Badwater Race. She completed this 135 mile race in a little over 49 hours. I'll get her exact time later.

I was at the finish and she looks GREAT. She is giving new meaning to the term 'Comeback Kid'! I am reporting this to you live from Lone Pine, California - where Lisa's sister Julie and I are visiting, as we get cheeseburgers and milk shakes for Lisa and a hungry crew preparing to go for the Mt Whitney Summit. Lisa and crew are camped out in a portal cabin where they are hopefully getting some well-deserved rest.

I will post photos and some audio commentary from Lisa later tonight, but for now - a hungry crew awaits!


ps - We are celebrating crew member Finlay's birthday with a cake up at the cabin! :-)

Where is Lisa on the Course?

Latest reports from crew members have Lisa at Keeler on Tuesday, July 26th at 2:00am. This is approximately seven miles since the last update at 7:30pm. The good news is that Lisa has got some shut-eye in that time, but the truth of the matter is that Lisa is suffering. The spirit that permeates the crew is that the chief priority is to keep Lisa's spirits positive and away from the pain that she is experiencing. The crew is looking to offer Lisa the support and positive encouragement she needs to move forward to Lone Pine, which will bring her to the Whitney Portal Road. And the good news is that another crew member just reported to me that in the last hour, there has been a small shift in Lisa's demeanor and step. Her words are growing more philosophical, and she is talking about things in a new voice - a good sign as she moves away from the focus of her stomach pain. This type of transformation is absolutely critical to her success. She will keep on keepin' on - send her your love and healing vibes!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where is Lisa on the Course?!?

Crew member Bob just stopped by and let me know that as of 7:30pm, Lisa had approximately hit the 100 mile mark!

(This photo was actually taken on Monday, about 10 minutes before we headed for the race start).

Marshall Ulrich Has ARRIVED!!!

As of Tuesday Afternoon, July 25th around 3:30pm Pacific

Hello Everyone,

I just received word that Marshall Ulrich arrived to the race course to join Lisa's crew. This is fantastic news.

Marshall and Lisa share a very special connection. Marshall introduced Lisa to Badwater after they competed in the EcoChallenge together years ago and told her he thought she could really make a go of this race over in Death Valley. And so Lisa toed the line of her first Badwater.

Lisa and Marshall share an extraordinary friendship and they share a common desire to help kids around the world through fundraising for the Religious Teachers Filippini.

They take on endurance athletic events most could never dream of and help each other realize their dreams. Lisa crewed Marshall when he did the Badwater Quad (that's double the challenge of the Badwater Double!) and it was one of her most sincere dreams that he would be on her crew for her return trip on the Badwater Double (Marshall planned on competing in the official Badwater race).

But Marshall could not compete this year because he wanted to support his wife through surgery. Marshall's wife Heather is an incredible person, who's commitment to the Religious Teachers Filippini knows no bounds. Read her letter on Lisa's website.

The great, GREAT news is that Heather is doing very well. Of course, she cannot come to crew Lisa as she had originally intended (and all the crew looked forward to), but her progress is such that she called Lisa to say that, "Marshall took care of his girl at home and now he needs to take care of his girl on the course". And so he has arrived!

According to crew member Finlay Woodruff, Marshall's arrival was ideal timing. Lisa has continued to struggle with settling her stomach, but it is a friend like Marshall who could arrive and convince Lisa to take an hour's nap. Finlay said it would not be dramatic to describe Marshall's arrival as a scene out fo a movie...Lisa was so delighted to see Marshall.

Marshall's experience and knowledge of the Badwater course is deep and strong. And his arrival certainly means a big help to the crew - especially as Lisa arrives to Keeler, a part of the course I have heard jokingly refer to as 'Killer'.

I will try to get Lisa's exact coordinates soon - stay tuned and prayer for her safe arrival to the Badwater Finish Line, the first of three epic milestones in her Badwater Double Challenge.

--Colleen Woods

Hear Lisa on the Official Badwater Site!!!

Here Lisa's incredible interview on the Official Badwater Site!!!

Look on this link:

Its a Featured Story called:
th time Badwater finisher, Lisa Smith-Batchen of Idaho, hits the 41 mile marker for her double crossing.

Race Report from Miles 17 through 58 - Furnace Creek to Townes Pass

this is an audio post - click to play

Here's Lisa at Stovepipe Wells, getting on her night-time gear.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Here at Furnace Creek

Monday, July 24, 2006 - 12:55 pm
I am here with a number of Lisa's crew members, awaiting her arrival at Furnace Creek which is 17 miles into the official Badwater race.

Lisa got off this morning in very high spirits. Prior to the start Lisa took photos with her fellow racers who were slotted for the 10 am start. Then our crew gathered for a beautiful prayer led by Lisa's sister Julie. After a rendition of the Canadian and American national anthems Lisa and the other racers were off.

For those of you interested in the weather conditions I can offer you some stats from the Death Valley National Park morning report. Over the past 24 hours the temperature high at Furnace Creek was 125 degrees F (52degrees C). Badwater, the race start, typically has even higher temperatures. The biggest weather concern discussed by race participants is the humidity which is higher than usual.

A few editiorial notes ...
COMMENTS: If you have responded to any blog postings with comments THANK YOU. We have not been able to read any comments because we do not have internet access. My great Mom has been posting messages to the blog that we fax to her.

Also I hear from Finlay that I mistakenly posted a photo a few days back that identified him as Todd. Needless to say, I do not want to insult Todd :) Finlay will be the first pacer for Lisa and on my next post I will let you know how that goes. I know Lisa is excited to have his company.

Messages to loved ones from Lisa's crew members... The following are little notes from Lisa's crew to family and friends. Lisa/crew are great.

Date: July 24, 2006
Subject: Messages to loved ones from Lisa's Crew Members...

The following are little notes from Lisa's crew to family and friends. Lisa and crew are doing great!!!

Colleen - Congrats to my Ironman Lake Placid buddies! You guys are awesome. Can't wait to hear all about the race. Death Valley is magnificent ... and, indeed - very hot! Love to everyone!!!

Bob - Congrats to Colleen’s Ironman Lake Placid buddies! You guys are awesome. She cannot wait to hear ALL about the race. Death Valley is magnificent ... and, indeed - very hot! Love to everyone!!!

Pam - Holo Muchachas! P, B, J, & __ (Minus P): missing you wonderful girls and sending you enduring love from the Big Empty – the magic of the desert is all around me ... wish you were here!

Julie - To my family - I love you and miss you more than words can say. Thank you for allowing me to take this time to support Lisa and her goal. I am growing from this experience and hope to come back a better person. Please pray for Lisa and all the crew. Love you !!! MOM

Finlay - I miss you so very much! It is wonderful here but it would be better if you were here too. I will see you both when I get home on Sunday. Love you very much! Love, Finlay

Todd - To my family & friends. This is such an awesome experience. I can't wait to share it with each and everyone of you. Helene, thank you for all your love and support - I would not be here without your love and support. Dad, I'm thinking of you often - this is such a unique and beautiful place. I'm thinking about and praying for my family each time I'm out on the quiet, solitude road. I love you all so much. And Brian, thank you for listening and uptting up with all my excitement and anxiety over the last three months. Love you all !!! Todd

Mike - To my friends and family - This is one tough race !!! Badwater Ultramarathon is extremely hard to say the least. It is true when they say it is like running with a hair dryer in your face. I haven’t been dry since I got here! It is amazing what the human body, mind, and soul can overcome. Anything is possible. If your mind can conceive it, you can achieve it. Love, Mike

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Crew Is Making Their Way to Badwater

Here's a photo of crew members Finlay and Pam in the Las Vegas airport, waiting on the arrival of crew members Todd and Richard. No gamblingg has taken place - yet! :-)