It was just another average day in the life of this dirty little runner girl when I happened upon this tweet from GORE-TEX, “We are still in search of a trail reporter for the TransRockies Run. There are three days left to apply.” I perked right up, clicked on the link and started reading. Embedded Trail Reporter….TransRockies Run. A post on the GORE-TEX Facebook page states, “If you are selected, we will outfit you like the runners, including GORE RUNNING WEAR gear and La Sportiva shoes. We will put you up in a luxurious tent and feed you fabulous meals. I immediately thought, THIS is what I’ve been looking for, this is right up my alley. I NEED to do this!
Of course I was fully aware of the TransRockies run, the name itself makes my heart beat hella faster. Upon reading the Facebook post and how to enter the contest, I could think of nothing else. I was dying to extend my very short lunch time at home so that I could create some grand entry that just could not be denied but I had to get back to work and would not be able to condense the 10 million reasons they should pick me into the one paragraph required without making myself late. Instead, I immediately sent the info to my boyfriend telling him, “I don’t think I’ll ever get this BUT, if I did… what do you think?” Being the wonderful man he is, he responded, OF COURSE! You have to do it!
I came back home that night intending to submit an entry but self-doubt started creeping in. I was super busy as it was, between working full time, being a mom to teenagers, doing some freelance writing, and trying to get my own running training in. Was I foolish to squeeze this into the middle of all that? Plus we already had a few trips planned that were coming up quickly. How could I be away that much? But, I told myself, there’s no chance in heck they’ll pick me and, if they did, I don’t even know exactly what they want me to do. Every single niggling little doubt crept in but was quickly swept away again as I thought of my background, my passion for trailrunning and the outdoors, and the different experiences I’d had. I KNEW that I could handle anything they threw my way. I KNEW I’d be good at this assignment. I KNEW this was the direction my life was heading anyhow, this is what I’d like to be doing in my future so why the heck would I not put myself out there?
Friday the 13th was the contest deadline date and on Friday the 13th I sat down and created my entry. Embed me or lose me forever I told them, hoping those reviewing the entries would appreciate my goofy sense of humor. I read through the requirements time and time again making sure I followed every step and provided all the information requested. After all, if I wasn’t going to get the spot, I certainly didn’t want it to be from my own pure stupidity. I hit the send button honestly thinking there was no way they’d pick me.
Sunday arrives, I am packing, heading off to the Badwater Ultramarathon because for the past few years I’ve wanted to be there, to be a part of it. I’ve had friends running it and was never able to go. This year I planned ahead and took the time off to go and take it all in, to take pictures and experience it up close and personal. Although my Australian friend Kelvin was not running it this year, I was ecstatic to see one of our other friends, Michael Miller, on the list as a 1st timer to Badwater and made plans to interview him and follow his progress.
I planned well in getting the time off but not in booking our rooms. I had gotten rooms for Monday night and Tuesday but not for Sunday night, as I didn’t know for certain about my man’s availability. I wanted to be there for the 6a start for sure, which meant either we drive from Las Vegas, leaving EARLY in the morning Monday morning, or we grab a room in Beatty, which is about 40 miles away, and leave early from Beatty. Because we were eager to get on the road, we opted to head on out and stay in Beatty overnight but before we could even get out the door, it became obvious that there was another plan in store for us.
I spotted on Facebook a post by Lisa Smith-Batchen asking if anyone was driving in to Death Valley from Las Vegas. Her luggage didn’t make it on her flights. They were sending it to Las Vegas and not certain they could deliver it to Death Valley. Even if they could, there’s no way it would get there in time. Lisa wasn’t running the race this year, she was crewing for Sergio Radovcic and all her gear was in her bag — the missing bag.
If you don’t know of Lisa Smith-Batchen, you have to look her up. Check her out on Facebook, Google her, read her blog. She is an amazing woman and absolutely selfless. I contacted her and told her we’d be able to get her luggage and bring it over. We figured we’d just head straight into Death Valley, drop it off, then go back to Beatty for the night. We were there at the baggage carousel waiting as the flight her bag was to be on was unloaded yet her bag was not there. I then found out it would be on the next flight, arriving 3 hours later. Ugh! We hadn’t wanted to wait that long to leave but didn’t have a need to be anywhere, especially if we were able to get this taken care of for her. So off we went. We stopped to visit with a friend, had dinner, then returned to the airport. I was thrilled to see her bag arrive, we nabbed it and made a bee line to the car. Within moments were on our way out of town.
The drive was quick. I’d tried to contact Lisa to find out where she was staying but hadn’t gotten a response until we were down the road a ways. Aside from the lack of cell reception out there, Lisa had a much better reason to be somewhat incommunicado. Come to find out she was a little busy being inducted into the Badwater Hall of Fame!
We arrived much quicker than expected and I spotted Lisa right away. I was excited to meet her but tried to hide it and not act like the ultra geek lover that I am. We were introduced then to the rest of the crew, Wolfe and Matt, who were so very generous, kind and friendly every time we saw them throughout the race, as was Lisa.
We figured since we were out there at Stovepipe Wells already, it couldn’t hurt to see if they might have a room available now. I’d like to think it’s karma, maybe it was just our lucky day, whichever it was there ended up being 1 room available and it was now ours.
I have yet to blog on my Badwater experience, but it’s coming and I’ll skip over some of that now and take you to where I was when I found out the news.
We’d just been at the start of the race, well 2 starts. We watched the 6a and the 8a starts, then I dropped my guy off at the Furnace Creek Resort to work for a bit (he needed internet) while I headed off to the Furnace Creek Ranch to watch the runners passing by there. It was relatively early in the day yet, of course, it was super warm out. I was in ultrarunning heaven, seeing it really taking place before my eyes, watching amazing athletes running right past me. I stood at the edge of the road for a bit taking pictures of the runners as they ran past, then settled down in a shady spot with a great view waiting to see our friend Michael come by, chatting with the crews that were there awaiting their runners.
The cell service out at Stovepipe Wells, where we stayed the night, was nil and it was spotty everywhere else it seemed. My iPhone was not able to do much but as I sat in the grass, giddy at being in the midst of Badwater, an email came through. It was from GORE and merely said, “We tried to give you a call. Can you please contact me at either number listed below? Thanks!” I didn’t think at that point that I’d won. I figured they were probably doing some telephone interviews to determine a winner. Nervous, but knowing there was no service down the road where we were headed, I figured I had better call them back right away. And so I did, expecting to be interviewed but floored to hear, “You won!” The connection was poor to begin with and I was also truly shocked. I hadn’t expected to hear from them at all and certainly hadn’t expected to hear that I’d won! I’m sure I sounded like a babbling idiot to those on the other end of the line and I am profusely grateful to them for not just hanging up on me or saying wrong number and moving on to the next in line.
It was very surreal, sitting out there at Furnace Creek with these famous runners around, hearing I won this incredibly cool contest and was about to head off on the adventure of my dreams. I was asked to keep the news on the down low re: social media until they had a chance to publicly announce me as the winner but being the Twitter/Facebook fan that I am, and being so friggin’ excited about it, I wanted to blast it out there to the world. However, at their request I refrained. I called my man but the cell service situation didn’t work out for us and I couldn’t reach him. I thought of calling my mom or dad but my guy was the only one who knew I’d put in an entry and the only one who knew how much it meant to me. I wanted to tell the crews around me what just happened, tell them I was headed from Badwater, a dream of mine, off to the mountains of Colorado for the TransRockies Run for a really sweet gig, that my life was finally coming together and I was reaching some goals that had once looked so incredibly far down the road. Instead, I sat alone, sweating profusely in the desert heat, smiling like a big stupid idiot.
Guess what? I’m still doing that to this day.. and I can’t wait to get out there to Colorado. You’ll find me out there at the TRR smiling like the big stupid idiot I am and loving every single, dirty second of it.
Here is part of my entry, as posted on the GORE-TEX Facebook page:
Meet Dana. She tell us, “Embed me or lose me forever!” Who doesn’t love a good Top Gun reference? Dana is a part-time race director, local group run leader, and lover of all things outdoors and dirty. Although a desert dweller, high altitudes are no problem for Dana. She often heads to the mountains in search of cooler temps for her runs. Dana is a freelance writer and lover of all things social media.