Roy Wiegand Runs Past Another Milestone

Roy Wiegand running near Death Valley. (Photo courtesy Roy Wiegand)

Many people have bucket lists of things they want to do in their lifetime.
Some have things to see or places to go high up on their lists.
Roy Wiegand has a list that is a little more unique.
It includes conquering challenges that would seem impossible to many, but are just the norm for the 55-year-old who lives in Burbank.
Although he didn’t start running until he was in his 40s, Wiegand is now clearly hooked on it.
He has withstood a number of ultra distance running challenges and recently went further than he had been before.
Running to raise money for Lifewater International, Wiegand ran on the same course that those who compete in a race dubbed as “the world’s toughest foot race” compete on.
So on August 30 Wiegand started running in Death Valley and nearly 45 hours later completed the course of the Badwater 135.
The Badwater 135 is an ultra marathon course that begins 280 feet below sea level in Death Valley, the lowest elevation point in North America and ends at Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. It is run in July and temperatures are well into triple digits at the start. In the 2018 edition just 69 of the 100 selected entrants finished the 135-mile course. There are roughly 2,000 applicants for the event.
“I had an RV and a crew and they supplied me with food and a doctor friend to keep tabs on me to make sure I wasn’t too dehydrated or too low on calories,” Wiegand said. “I would see them every two to three miles and I’d re-stock up on liquids and eat something.”

Roy Wiegand at the start line of his run. Photo courtesy Roy Wiegand.

Because he was not participating in the actual Badwater 135, Wiegand was literally running all by himself.
“During this year’s run, I counted 13 cars that pulled over to offer me help,” he said. “They saw me running on the side of the road. There’s not much for many miles out in Death Valley. The cars would slowly pull up and the windows would come down and it was usually a European tourist. There’s a lot of European tourists out there. They would ask me ‘Are you okay, do you need some water, do you need a ride, are you lost?’ It is nice that they meant well and wanted to make sure I wasn’t stranded.”
Wiegand said he raised more than $8,000 for this run and the funds will provide for clean water sanitation and hygiene for a small village in Ethiopia.
“It is all about finishing and making sure you get it done under 48 hours,” Wiegand said. “(In) the (Badwater 135) race you’re disqualified if you don’t finish in 48 hours. It was a real bucket list thing for me to try. It was a real personal challenge, but it translates to turning some lives around (for) people I’ll probably never meet.”
Wiegand, who says he has completed eight runs over more than 100 miles, admits he is often reminded of something he was told a number of years ago from another ultramarathoner.
“He said ultra running is 90 percent mental and the other 10 percent is all in your head,” Wiegand said.
During the 45-hour event, Wiegand said he did do some power walking, but took very few breaks in which he completely stopped.
“I took two cat naps that were about 15 minutes each. I had a camping chair,” he said. “I went into a super deep sleep for like 15 minutes and then I got up and going again.”

Roy Wiegand getting assistance from his crew during one of his quick breaks. Photo courtesy Roy Wiegand.

Wiegand said one of the highlights was running around the clock.
“It is surreal running through two nights being out in the desert under the stars,” Wiegand said.
Wiegand also added that he didn’t have as many problems as one might think.
“I’m pretty blessed. I didn’t have any issues more than a couple of blisters at the end,” he said. “That was about it, a couple of black toenails. I was lucky I was able to weather it as well as I did.”
In preparing for the run, Wiegand said he fortunate to have resources in Burbank.
“I owe a lot to the Verdugos,” Wiegand said. “We had some really hot days in July. At least once I put layers on and it was over 110. (I had) pants, two or three shirts, and a windbreaker and I put stuff on my head and a cap just to try to replicate the heat I was going to be facing in Death Valley.”
Wiegand said Crunch Fitness offered use of their sauna even though he is not a member.
“I went to their sauna four or five times and I stayed in there as long as I could in the heat and acclimate as best as I could,” Wiegand said.
Now that he knows he can withstand the most difficult of conditions, it will be interesting to see what Roy Wiegand does next.
“I like the challenge of running in the heat. It is very liberating,” he said. “This is close as I can be to being different. I’m not saying that this is advisable or normal, but I like the challenge.”

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