I am having a period of procrastination before applying for the race I've been thinking about for 5 years. I heard about this before I ran my first ultra and aspired to run it in 5 years. Now it is within reach, the application form is on my screen right now. It's kind of like being young when you really fancied a girl for ages but you didn't do anything about it in case she said no and you look like a twat. Then, in a moment of haste and (possible alco-pop inspired) bravery you pluck up the courage to do the deed and then you panic momentarily as you consider "what if she says yes?"
The Badwater application forms came out on the 1st Feb. I have printed it off and looked through the questions. Most of my answers are "no - not done anything like that". There is a question asking me for my shoe size, not sure why. Perhaps they are obliged to fully represent people of all shoe sizes? Sillier things have happened.
Having known my chances in the other 2 lotteries I have entered recently, Western States was about a 20% chance and UTMB about 75% I really have no idea what my chances are here. The application process is more like a job interview with CV's and an assessment committee. I know that there are 40 places for "rookies" - those that have not run Badwater before and a further 40 for "veterans". It is never revealed how many apply for each of the positions and there is no lottery, each application is judged on it's individual merits. I have no idea what my chances are;
The form makes for intimidating reading. Once I confirm my name, nationality, shoes size, shirt size and confirm that I can speak English it gets straight into the detail.
- How many continuous races of 50-99 miles have you run? 3
- How many continuous races of 100+ miles have you run? 3
- How many times have you completed the Badwater ultra? 0
- How many times have you crewed at Badwater? 0
It then asks for a predicted race time and then evidence to support this prediction. It is really like an appraisal or a job interview.
It then suggests "other stuff" you may have done which does not count towards qualification but that you may want to add to support your application. This is like getting marks for showing your working out in an exam, even if you don't have the right answer you can get some sympathy points. Some suggestions for what counts as scribbles are "multiple" multi-days in one year (so one MDS is not enough), 500 mile cycle races, double, triple Ironman or further, the grand slam (6 really tough 100 mile races in the US within 3 months of each other).
Reading the whole form leaves me feeling a bit inadequate. I have the minimum qualifying races (2 100 milers) but then so do many more people who I know will be applying for this race. I know I'll be up against people who have been running ultras since before I was doing cross country at school. My 3 races may well get my application on the table, but how far it goes depends on others.
"Why do you want to run Badwater"? is a question I'm going to have to give a lot of thought to, since it may be my only chance of competing against the other entries. It seems strange that I should feel competitive about getting into a race. If they let me get to the start line then all thought of competition will depart and I can do what I love doing again, running my own race.