HCSS employee Steve Maliszewski is set to run one of the toughest foot races on the planet: the grueling 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon taking place July 21st - July 23rd, 2014. And to track him along the course, HCSS is installing one of our GPS units on his crew’s van to follow his progress in real time. HCSS’s GPS units provide detailed location data, can track vehicle speeds and record mileage, among dozens of other features.
Starting in the small town of Lone Pine, California at 3,727 feet above sea level, the race starts off with a 22-mile climb to 10,000 feet and ends at 8,360 feet at the Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney. Taking place in the middle of July when temperatures soar to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, winds radiating off the hot asphalt can hit temperatures of 170 degrees. In Texas sized terms, this is hot enough to smoke a brisket.
The competition is elite with only 100 runners participating from across the globe and acceptance is based on an application akin to a college application. Maliszewski had to write essays, provide recommendations and have competed in three 100-mile races within the last few years. Maliszewski is one of six runners from Texas and this is his first time to compete at Badwater. Last year he crewed for another Texas runner which gave him a taste of what the race is like. Each runner brings a crew and support vehicle that stays within 2 miles of the competitor carrying food, water and medical supplies. Each crew member is also a pacer, taking turns running just behind Maliszewski throughout the entire race. The pacer is never in front as it’s against race rules that the runner is given any form of shade along the course. The pacer is also there to provide moral support.
Competitors are given 48 hours to complete the course and Maliszewski hopes to finish in the 30-hour range, which puts his pace at a 12 minute mile. “You try to pace yourself,” says Maliszewski. “I imagine at times it will be slower, especially on the bigger climbs. At times I’ll be running an 8 minute mile and at times I will walk. It will be a challenge for me to walk. I’ll ask my team to make me walk early even though I might feel good running. But it’s for the better of the long haul to walk early to save your legs rather than trying to go as far as you can without stopping. Plus that breaks up the different muscle groups you use.”
HCSS will build a webpage dedicated to tracking Maliszewski that shows the map of the Badwater route and the GPS unit flashing his progress throughout the race. We will draw geofences around each of the way point stops so that each time the support vehicle enters or exits one of these points, an instant message will be sent to his followers via HCSS’s Twitter feed. HCSS will also have a “HCSS Badwater Monitoring Team” here at the HCSS Campus in Sugar Land that receives these alerts and checks the progress of the support vehicle live throughout the day. Members in his crew will be documenting his journey by sending video clips and photographs to the HCSS Team so we can upload images for supporters to see Maliszewski in his element.
With Houston being a mere 50 feet above sea level and a consistently flat landscape, Maliszewski has had to get creative with his training. A few weekends ago he ran the hills at Spotts Park in the shadows of downtown Houston over 1,000 times. He has also been studying the elevation charts of the course and has programmed the first 20 miles of the course into a treadmill at home. The mental preparation alone must be a training process in and of itself. “I’m pretty scared about it and if I wasn’t scared I think I’d have a problem,” said Maliszewski. “I think you have to have a healthy respect and fear going into it. Something that large in nature, you can’t be overly confident so I’m trying to remain grounded along those lines.”
“Mentally for the entire distance, I don’t try to think about the whole thing. I’m not going to start off and go ok, 134 miles to go, there’s another one. I split it up into bite sized pieces that I can handle. It might start off to be the first climb which is 21 miles straight up to 10,000ft. I probably will even break that one up into two halves and think about it and have little rewards built in,” continues Maliszewski. “It might get to the point where I see the van up ahead and that will be my goal, just to keep going. It’s hard if you start thinking about the whole task. But if you just go ‘oh it wasn’t so bad, I just made it that one mile’, then you can do that again. I’ll keep thinking in those ways and never think about the whole task. I’ll probably think about it when I get almost to the end. By that time though I can crawl, but hopefully I won’t be crawling.”
Is Badwater something Maliszewski has set his sights on for a while now? “Once I started getting into the longer distance stuff it became a goal. It definitely is a great honor to be chosen and to even be able to participate in any capacity. Just being there is pretty special.”
Join HCSS and Ultramarathon fans across the world on July 21st-23rd as we show our support and track Maliszewski across the harsh yet stunning California desert during this incredible race. Follow along at www.hcss.com/steverunsbadwater or on our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/hcss #steverunsbadwater
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