Saturday, April 9, 2011

One of a kind!

Beautiful, perfect, totally unique, and unexpected. I love it. This one gets framed! Made by my talented crew chief (and wife), "Death Valley" Deborah --

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Adventure Continues

We will be going again in 2011. See my new blog pages for information on Death Valley Express II and beyond at  - - Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photos now available!

A nearly full photo log can now be found at:

Included are some training trips to Death Valley and Mt. Whitney, plus the Death Valley Express itself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

He Ain't Heavy

A short video tribute to my crew. It speaks more words than I can write on this subject. Click on the link and enjoy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

There is No Finish Line

Hi All. I just finished eating the trail mix I would have carried up the mountain, and thought it time for a quick post. Thanks to all for following my adventure and for the encouraging words.

Today I am happy as any perrson can be. I lived a dream. A dream that I had thought was taken away from me forever. Though the initial goal was not met, I dug deep and made the most important goal happen. My feet remain sore. The idea of pulling shoes over the still fire-red wounds is not appealing.  The infection is under control thanks to antibiotics, though the swelling remains uncomfortable. That all aside, I feel fantastic! It will not be long before I am back on the road, planning a new adventure.

But, no adventure will ever match the one I just had.

To Team Latter: There are not enough thanks to give.

Though I was alone for most all of the time, those brief times for support were fun and critical. It is a fact that I would not have made it past Stovepipe Wells without the dedication to my journey not only by myself, but my team. In addition, through my suffering I saw friendships born. With that my journey became bigger and more rewarding.

I will end this post with a quote from Rich Benyo's book, Death Valley 300, that I now know to be true for me as well.

"We had done this thing we had set out to do, and instead of becoming larger because of the experience, we became smaller, more humble, more aware of how little we know: about the world in general, about ourselves specifically."

August 8th, the start date of the Death Valley Express was my late brother's birthday. Technical problems prevented my start to music that I hoped to play. These photos reminded me of that. The song was "He ain't heavy, he's my brother."
The road is long...

with many a winding turn....
that leads us to who knows where...
so why not share.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Badwater" Bill

Update: Friday a.m.

I received this status update from Deborah this morning.

"When Rhonda started to prep Bill's feet, she was worried about some asymmetric swelling.  She called Ben Jones in, and he also found the left foot to be swollen and inflammed, diagnosing it as cellulitis and suggesting that standing down would be the better part of valor. So we are calling it good with "just" the 135.  Bill is fine with this, as is the crew."

There is no such thing as "just" 135 miles. Bill completed the entire Badwater 135 course - a tremendous achievement. Sure, he planned to do 300 miles, but what he accomplished was what he was supposed to do on "this" attempt.

Every adventure is a learning opportunity, and Bill and his crew gained an invaluable education on this journey. Undoubtedly, Death Valley Express will run again.

Death Valley is "bigger" than we are

There's a reason it's called Death Valley  
Bill's crew 

Bill's #1 crew member - Deborah 

Death Valley Bill

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Arrival at Whitney Portal!

At 7:19 yesterday evening, Bill charged through the finish line (OK, so Rhonda and I were holding TP across the path) at Whitney Portal.

After a few hours sleep, he charged right up the Portal road at a very steady pace and finished the official Badwater 135 course strong.  The entire crew was there to welcome him in, and we proceeded en masse to a celebratory dinner at Seasons during which Bill consumed beer and elk as a nice change from Cytomax, pudding and Pringles.

Today, Bill is resting while Nancy attempts to secure permits for the mountain attempt tomorrow.

I should correct a minor factual error on my part -- Rhonda and Bernhard encountered Ben at Panamint over breakfast.  Bill has yet to be visitated by the man.

----- Deborah (Lone Pine)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough" - Joe Lewis

With no regrets and with the full support of his team, Bill has decided that at least for THIS attempt "Once is Enough." 

His goal now is to achieve Whitney Portal today, take a day of rest, and scale the mountain on Friday.  He will not attempt the return to Badwater THIS time, but he says he's having the time of his life -- even if his body isn't being entirely cooperative!

Bill got into the Comfort Inn in Lone Pine at a little before 6:00 this morning.  His feet were pretty beaten up at this point, and he has some kind of sun-induced skin blistering that looks really nasty, but apparently wasn't bothering him.  Rhonda worked on his feet again for quite a while last night, and he iced them down this morning.  His back is holding up very well.  He is in very good spirits, if just a little bit on the tired side! (Ha!)

This morning after we left Bill to get a bit more rest, we finished discussing logistics out by the hotel pool, and a gigantic moth dropped out of the sky.  We thought it had probably been injured by a bird, and we put it gently into the shade.  About a half an hour later,  as we were organizing the vehicles, an identical moth flew by, touched down on the top of the truck, and then flew off.  I think the animal kingdom is trying to lend its support!  

For those of you who have done any kind of extreme ultraendurance event, you will understand and possibly even identify with the "interesting" night Bill had last night (according to Rhonda and Bernhard):

As he came across Owens Valley to Lone Pine, he was followed for some time by a fox ("Freddie"), and he was also briefly visited by an owl.  He thought he was being visited by aliens as well, but it turned out to be Bernhard explaining a concept to Rhonda using his laser pointer. Oh, and they were also visited by Ben Jones last night.

When Bill achieves the Portal tonight, he will have completed the official Badwater 135 course - something only a very small number of people in the world have achieved.  The team will assemble to celebrate his substantial accomplishment.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Foot in Front of the Other

Tuesday Evening Update from Death Valley:

In a note from Deborah:  "I last saw Bill near the Darwin turnoff, about 30 miles before Lone Pine and he looked great.  He was making steady progress, eating, drinking, in very good spirits and heading for Lone Pine.  That's a long day, and his goal tomorrow is Whitney Portal with the mountain now targeted for Thursday."

Deborah took some good photos today and uploaded them before she crashed for the night. She is taking the 2 am - 2 pm shift tomorrow so that Nancy can rest up for the climb up the mountain.

Rhonda doctored Bill's feet for another day on the road

Bill and Rhonda
Bill is staying hydrated - Rhonda gives a thumbs up
Rich as his usual self - been down this road before
Bill...on the road again

Death Valley Bill on the way to Lone Pine

Tuesday Update:

For those of you who are "visual," here is a map of the course Bill is taking in Death Valley.
Got a call from Deborah (wife and crew chief extraordinaire) this morning. Bill made it to Panamint Springs last night - roughly the 73 mile marker. His feet were a little "beat up," but his spirits were high. All other body parts and systems are in good condition, especially after sleeping 4-5 hours last night.

He is on his way to Lone Pine and expects to be there this evening sometime - that will be the 122-mile marker. 

The temperature has been fairly moderate (for Death Valley, that is) - low single digit hundreds most of the day yesterday. I checked the forecast for today on his way to Lone Pine, and it looks much better.  Currently, in Lone Pine it is 85 degrees, but it feels like 82 (got a wind chill going there). High today 91, low tonight 61 (ah - that will be nice), and tomorrow back to 91. Mother Nature is being kind to him today.

The crew is rocking along - getting some rest when Bill does - and they are all in good spirits as well. Deborah said that he's a little bit behind his projected schedule, but still ok. The next few days will tell the rest of the story.

I've passed along your good energy and well wishes to Bill and his crew. Keep sending him that positive energy!

I'll update you all when I get my next report...


Monday, August 9, 2010

Where is Waldo?

I last saw Bill chugging along determinedly well up Townes pass.  Hydrated, but tired, and making good time.

Ups and Downs and Ups

The early part of the day yesterday went really well.  Bill was going strong from Badwater to Furnace and on up the road from there. However, a few miles short of Stovepipe Wells, Bill started to get dehydrated and was not holding fluid down very well.

Rich and Bernhard convinced him to take a time out at the motel, and he spent several hours supine and drinking.  Rhonda and I took the night shift and sent everyone else back to Furnace Creek for a rest.  Bill rallied in the wee hours of the morning, we all caught a few Zzzzs and then he and Rhonda hit the asphalt at around 6:30 this morning.  Bill was feeling tired, but otherwise looking pretty good as he came back into Stovepipe Wells, just as Rich and Nancy pulled back up. 

Bill is now on the road up Townes Pass attended by Rich and Nancy, Rhonda is getting some well-deserved rest and I am... blogging.

------ Deborah (Furnace Creek)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And he's off!

Bill left Badwater at 6:20 this morning. The conditions were mild and he's been chugging down the road looking strong. He was last reported at about mile 14.

There were search and rescue operations going on out on the flat while we were getting ready to go -- low flying Navy helicopters and all. I hope they found the missing person OK!

Crew has suffered one injury. Deborah slipped climbing into the Suburban and crashed down on her foot which is now being iced at Furnace Creek. Hence the relatively lengthy entry!

---- Deborah

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Night Before

Everyone has converged at Furnace Creek Ranch. Nancy and Bernhard got a chance to do a little sightseeing before Rich and Rhonda got in. Then we set about "organizing" the vehicles. Organizing is one word for it, but it reminded me of getting all the clowns into the circus car, or maybe practicing for a telephone-booth stuffing competition... but in the end, I think everything that needs to be in the main service vehicle is in it and most of the rest of the stuff is in the secondary vehicle. We had a nice dinner together as a group (Bill's Last Supper, as it were) and then had a last organizational team meeting. Then Rhonda taped Bill's feet. Now it's time for us all to try to get a few Zzzzzzzs before we convey down to Badwater in the wee hours for a 6AM start. ----- Deborah (Furnace Creek Ranch)

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Death Valley Express has pulled into the station!

Bill and I arrived at Furnace Creek around 6:30 PM today. We are settled in and ready to get this show on the road... literally! Deborah

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To those who have brought Bill to the starting line, thanks must go to:

The Campers and Coaches of the Dick Beardsley Marathon Running Camp

His crew: Rich Benyo, Rhonda Provost, Nancy Silbermann, Bernhard Schulz, Deborah Levine Latter and Jenny Stinson

For advice, consultation, and encouragement: Marshall Ulrich, Charlie Engle, Scott Weber

For putting up with he whole thing and acting as Crew Chief: Deborah Levine Latter

His late mother, Harriet Wibel, for giving him permission to do this "Death Valley thing."

And most of all to Rick Latter, for inspiring Bill to be all that he is.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. - Joe Lewis

Death Valley Express

The Death Valley Express is the name I have given to my attempt at a Badwater Double, or Death Valley 300. The start is August 8th at 6:00 PDT. I expect it to take six to seven days to complete the 292 mile round trip from Badwater in Death Valley to the summit of Mt. Whitney and back. This journey includes the extreme temperatures of this region, arduous climbs out of Death Valley, Panamint Valley, and from Owens Valley to the 14,505 ft (4,421 m) summit of Mt. Whitney. My five person crew will make sure I am safe, watered, and fed - and most of all give me the best possible chance at completing my journey.

Because of a seriously herniated lumbar disk, I will be walking most of the way. But, the very fact that I am making this attempt at all has taught me a valuable lesson -- to never, ever give up because dreams do come true.

Follow me and Team Latter here as we make our way across the desert and to high elevations and back again. We will be out there long enough that something interesting will surely happen!