Ask a Badwater finisher…if you can find one

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(U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah  — Ever wonder what it might be like to run more than 100 miles? If so, ever consider adding 100-degree heat and more than 14,000 feet in cumulative elevation gain? An Airman will find out in July.

Capt. Jared Struck, an aircraft maintenance officer with the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, is training for the Badwater ultramarathon, which he’ll begin running July 18. The California race begins at the lowest point in the U.S., 280 feet below sea level, in Death Valley, and ends 135 miles later at 8,300 feet above sea level on the side of Mount Whitney.

Struck set a goal to one day run Badwater after hearing about it in 2007.

“I don’t really know why I want to run the race,” he said. “Freedom? Self-discovery? The Badwater 135 is known as the ‘World’s Toughest Footrace’ and it sounds like a challenge and my kind of race.”

Struck, whose longest run to date is 100 miles (he’s completed five 100 milers), began running as a 23-year-old. He runs to stay in shape and says it’s a great stress reliever.

“At 23 I was out of shape, loved to eat, and couldn’t finish a 5K,” he said. “I was athletic in high school, but got lazy.  I always dreamed of running a marathon, so I decided that I needed to make some life changes.  I ran my first marathon, the Air Force Marathon, in 2005 and haven’t stopped running since.”

He trains hard for ultramarathons, sometimes running 50 miles on Saturday followed by 20 miles on Sunday.

“I run six days a week, and lift three to four days a week,” he said. “Plenty of long weekends with back-to-back long runs. I also added sauna-suit runs and weekly sauna workouts for Badwater.”
Family provides his inspiration
“A lot of people inspire me to run, but mostly my family,” Struck said. “My grandmother loved to walk and she always dreamed of walking across the country. In 1945, my grandfather, John Struck, as a rifleman in the army, walked from the southern tip of Italy to Austria in just one year, carrying all his gear and fighting a war.”

Struck’s goal is to complete the ultramarathon within the 48-hour time limit, a feat for which he’ll receive a huge amount of personal satisfaction.

“I want to finish this race, period,” he said. “Nothing else matters.”
Teamwork will be critical to him finishing
“Believe it or not, teamwork is a huge part of this race,” Struck said. “I’m relying on a team of four to keep me running and moving ahead. They will control everything from my pace, electrolytes, food, water intake, and motivation.”

Besides satisfying a personal goal, Struck’s run will benefit Fisher House.

Fisher House is known for the no-cost housing they provide to military families whose loved ones are undergoing treatment during illnesses, injuries, and diseases. Struck became aware of Fisher House after volunteering at their Salt Lake City location.

“These guys rock!” he said. “They support military families and they are a world class organization.”

So, do you really want to know what such a run is like?

“Ask a Badwater finisher…if you can find one,” Struck said.