Training For Ultra's Training Diaries - Issue #10

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Guest: Bob Becker

Episode Title: Bob Becker Attempts Badwater 135 at Age 76 w/ co-host Andrea Kooiman


Bio: Bob Becker started out ultrarunning in 2005, only three years after running his first marathon. Bob’s first ultramarathon was the 150-mile long Marathon des Sables (MDS). This is a seven-day stage race in Morocco through the Sahara Desert. Unfortunately, during this race Bob fractured his femur and was pulled from the race with only a marathon’s distance left to go. This did not discourage Bob at all though, and similarly to how Agatha Christie once lamented that swimming was simply too tame after surfing, Bob apparently felt marathons were too tame after MDS. After MDS Bob decided not to go for any more of those “tame” marathons and has since gone on to complete the Badwater 135 race three times. In 2015, he even set the record for the oldest man to ever complete the 292-mile Badwater 135 Double! He has also run the Grand 2 Grand Ultra, Western States, and, in 2019 Bob, won “A Race For The Ages,” by running 230 miles in 74 hours! Bob’s most recent adventure was the 2021 Badwater 135 where he had hoped to break the record for oldest finisher. Unfortunately, this wasn't his year, but fingers crossed he comes back next year and tries again. By day Bob is the race director for some of the most popular, infamous, beautiful, and fun ultras in the U.S., including the  Florida Key to Key race and the Everglades Ultras. Currently, Bob lives in Florida where he averages about 50 miles a week running, and is known around his neighborhood for pulling a tire to simulate hill climbing!

Quotes from podcast episode:

“That’s how I celebrated my 60th birthday… looking up the word ultramarathon to figure out what the heck that was.” - 3:08 Bob Becker

“I just completely fell in love with the sport, everything about it: the camaraderie, the experience living in a stinky tent for a week, the whole thing out there, and yeah I was hooked.” - 5:11 Bob Becker

“Anybody can do this stuff, it’s really true, there's no age limit.” - 6:10 Bob Becker

“The first rule of crewing is you don't want to become the problem... The crew has to take care of themselves, they have to rest, they have to eat, they have to do all the stuff the runner is doing… Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your runner.” - 27:40 Bob Becker

“It doesn't have to be a formal race to be a very exciting adventure.” - 39:30 Bob Becker

“We finish on Higgs Beach, right on the ocean, with a 40 by 80-foot tent where we are flipping burgers. I'll give you an idea, two years ago, we went through 1500 burgers, 800 pieces of fried chicken, 60 cases of beer. It’s just a great place to hang out… That is an important part of the race experience too.” - 56:43 Bob Becker

Episode Timeline:

2:42 Bob’s first ultramarathon 

5:30 Age and gender are irrelevant in ultras

7:40 Bob’s journey to becoming a race director

11:15 How race directing changed Bob’s approach to running 

13:00 Florida terrain challenges 

15:30 Bob’s future races (Salt and Sea)

19:00 The unique pressures of running team races

21:30 Why Badwater 135 is special

23:20 The ultimate test of a team is crewing Badwater 135

28:00 Crewing and pacing advice

29:04 Crazy wildlife during ultramarathons

33:16 Bob’s bucket list races and advice for choosing your first races

36:00 Brazil 135

37:15 Non-race ultrarunning goals and stage races

40:33 Spousal support and life balance while ultrarunning 

51:00 Having Kara Goucher as your niece-in-law

54:20 Most underappreciated aspect of the Keys 100

58:18 Keys 100 terrain

59:09 Rob’s Leadville experience 

Social Media:

Bob’s Races: UltraSports - Races (

Guest Co-Host: Andrea Kooiman

Bio: Andrea Kooiman, or “Coach K” as she is fondly called by her coaching clients, is an accomplished ultrarunner, philanthropist, and coach. Andrea started her running career in middle school on her school’s track and field team. In 2006, after a few years of marathon running, Andrea realized she could either focus on running faster or running farther - she chose to run farther and ran her very first ultramarathon! In 2008, after her son’s marathon training program shut down due to lack of funding, Andrea founded WeROCK, “We run Orange County’s Kids.” The program oversees the marathon training of about 100 kids every year and helps them (in addition to marathon training) cultivate discipline, a healthy lifestyle, self-confidence, and teaches goal setting. Andrea is now a prolific ultrarunner. A few of her most notable races include UTMB, Badwater 135 (3 x finisher!), Western States, Badwater Cape Fear, Badwater Salton Sea, and the Mt. Gaoligong Ultra 100 Mile. Andrea currently lives, coaches, and runs in O.C., California.

Quotes from podcast episode:

“It’s the one place, being a female athlete, where when I line up at the start line of any race, I've always felt like an equal… It’s the ultimate equalizer” - 6:16 Andrea Kooiman

“I would have to say that the older you get the better you get at this sport because I feel like as we get older, we do get better at suffering.” - 6:49 Andrea Kooiman

“You can be so well trained, you can have the greatest resume, as you do, be an accomplished runner, and I mean anything can happen in a 100-mile race.” - 24:43 Andrea Kooiman

“You want to set yourself up for success so being able to train in similar conditions is definitely key.” - 35:35 Andrea Kooiman

“It’s totally on my bucket list! I want to run across the country.” - 39:40 Andrea Kooiman

“I don’t know that I've quite figured out the balance because… it looks good on paper until you are in the throes of it.” - 48:11 Andrea Kooiman

“I don’t know that the balance is ever guaranteed. I think every year is so different.” - 50:10 Andrea Kooiman

“I DNF’d in 2013 and finished in 2016… There’s nothing I can tell you. There’s nothing you can read. You have to experience it.” - 1:07:20 Andrea Kooiman

“Are you even an ultrarunner if you haven’t DNF’d?” - 1:08:02 Andrea Kooiman

“Never say never, that’s the nail in the coffin, the minute you say “never” you’re signing up.” - 1:09:50 Andrea Kooiman

Episode Timeline: (see Bob Becker entry)

Social Media: 

Instagram: Andrea Casella Kooiman (@runcoachkrun) • Instagram photos and videos Facebook: Andrea Casella Kooiman | Facebook Twitter: Andrea Kooiman (@coachkrocks) / Twitter Website: AK • Andrea Kooimn • Coach K • Personalized Run Coaching (

Big thank you to the podcast supporters!

John Wayne Cancer Foundation - Run the GRIT Series

Tanri Outdoors - All Natural Sun Protection for Runners (use “ULTRA10” for 10% off)

XoSkin (use “T4U20” for 15% off)

Thank you Patreon supporters!