Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Leaving the low-lying desert behind, Lone Pine reaches into the high desert region at 3610-feet elevation. As the climbs extends almost into the clouds, Mt. Whitney seems so close as if extending one’s arm out will actually come in contact with the snow-capped mountain. The heat declines with each step and the finish line provides almost an oasis for the tired racer.
Tucked amongst the lodge pole pine are the Kiehl’s finishing banner and the racer director, Chris Kostman, anxiously awaiting the arrival of each Badwater finisher. On one side of the finish line is a waterfall that reaches up to the top of the ridge; and on the other side, the trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Whitney.
I arrived at the finish line this afternoon to be blessed with the arrival of Bernhard Sesterheim of Germany. With 50 feet to go, Bernhard lifted his arms in pure champion style, stepped up with pace into an all-out run, and finished with his crew on both sides of him, all the while sporting the biggest smile that this lovely German gentleman could manage and a shout of glee. Already at the finish line were other German racers, including his friends Sigrid Eichner and Karlheinz Kobus, with whom he posed for a photo.
The rookie Floridian, David Harper, also crossed the finish line, looking relieved and elated. Chris Kostman quickly whisked him to the finish line banner for photo opportunities and then off to the medics to partake in one of the experiments that took place in this year’s Badwater race. After a quick weigh-in and a couple drops of blood, David was soon asking for his shirt and a beer. When I last saw him, he was shaking hands with one of his crewmembers and enjoying a refreshing drink atop the Whitney Portals, complete with a finisher’s medal around his neck. Congratulations, David!