Posted by: pointlenana | June 30, 2015

The Energizer Bunny – Western States Part 2

Continuing with book 2 of the Western States multi-volume set, and the badass women theme, there was a woman at Western States that I crossed paths with multiple times.

I first saw her shortly after leaving the Duncan Canyon aid station, around mile 24.  I was walking up a short hill, eating and/or digesting, and a woman roughly my age ran slowly but easily past me.  I thought “it’s great that she can run up this hill”.  As she passed, she suggested that I get a tube sock from someone, fill it with ice, and drape it around my neck.  I pointed out that I was wearing a bandana with ice, she said “those don’t work, the ice falls out”, I explained that the bandana had a pouch for ice, she seemed very slightly interested and continued on ahead.

Then the trail turned down, the woman maintained her steady gait, I sped up, there was a wide spot and I passed her.  At the bottom of Duncan Canyon, there’s a small creek and lots of people had advised “take a dip in the creeks – it’s worth the time”. I found a spot in the creek, lay down for a moment, got up, and as I was getting back to the trail the woman passed me again.  It was another uphill, she kept a steady shuffle going, I walked, and she disappeared ahead.

Gradually I worked up to the Robinson Flat aid station.  I stocked up and set out.  Up a little more, then down and I passed her again.  Another up and she passed me.  Around this time I found myself running with Matt Keyes (the luckiest person in the Western States lottery, 9 finishes now, and selected repeatedly in a lottery that takes about 270 people out of 2500).  I asked him “who is that woman?”  He didn’t know – either she was too far ahead or he didn’t know her.  I told him that I was pretty sure she’d pass me on the final hill before the finish.  Then another long downhill and I passed her again shortly before the Dusty Corners aid station.

She pulled into the aid station right after me and I found myself next to her, watching her put ice in her arm sleeves.  I said “Who are you??  You’re so strong.”  “I’m Pam Reed”.  “Oh.  I see.”

There’s a race in Death Valley called Badwater.  135 miles in July in the hottest place on Earth.  Pam Reed won Badwater in 2003.  Not the women’s race.  Overall.  According to this 12-year-old Runner’s World article, she had already done a lot of other stuff by 2003.  12 years later, it’s possible (but definitely not certain) that she’s slowed slightly.  But there is no chance that she’s become less smart about doing these crazy events, especially in heat.

It was flat-ish for a while, and I stayed ahead of her.  Then I started having problems due to heat as I headed down into Deadwood Canyon.  Near the bottom – surprise, there’s Pam Reed passing me again.  As she passed, she looked at me and said “you need to put ice in a bottle”.  “I do put ice in my bottles”.  “No, you need to fill one bottle with just ice.  Putting water in too melts the ice and then all you have after a mile or two is warm water.  Just put ice in.”  This time I was smart enough to listen to her, and I did that from then on while it was hot.  I still had problems though, she disappeared again, and that was the last time I saw her.

I recovered from the heat.  Eventually – 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours later maybe?  My pacer Bob knows of Pam Reed from running the Tucson Marathon (and may well know her) and later in the race Bob and I talked about the chance of catching her again.  Bob said she had left Foresthill (mile 62) well ahead of me.  Looking at our splits, I was probably 45 minutes behind her at Foresthill.  I did make up time – she only finished 15 minutes ahead of me.  But there’s that hill near the end of the race and I know that even if I had caught up she would have passed me again there.

Here’s a video of Pam Reed on David Letterman – I think I’d recognize that pace/cadence from the Badwater scenes anywhere now.


  1. […] hike up out of Duncan Canyon I had no interest in running it.  I power hiked and digested.  The Energizer Bunny passed me again.  Starting down the 14 mile descent into Deadwood Canyon, I found myself running […]

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