I've been quite the sportsman in my life;here are my running, biking, swimming, and skiing exploits in shorthand.
I grew up in Claremont, California, and went to high school at Webb School of California. Then I went to Pomona College as a pre-med major and got my medical degree at UCLA Medical Center followed by a medical internship at Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Returning to California, I took my internal medicine residency at Memorial Hospital of Long Beach. When I first came here as an "internist" they thought I was merely an "intern." My initials are "M.R." (for Milton Randle) so they thought I was Mr. Jones, M.D. I made a hit making house calls in a Model A Ford and became accepted in the community.
My entire medical career has been located in Lone Pine, California, plus, I had a satellite office at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. I would have gone into sports medicine if that specialty had existed then. Wilderness medicine might have been even more appropriate. I have done everything medically here except surgery. I consider it "frontier medicine." I might be best known as the local autopsy surgeon.
After the three kids grew up and went off to college, I started jogging and running for fitness. I was amazed at how "out-of-shape" I had gotten while I was busily raising a family and pursuing my career. From the Boy Scout 50-steps and 50-strides, I progressed to doing 5K's, then 10K's and eventually worked my way up to the first Wild Wild West Marathon here in the Sierra foothills in 1979. I did that one for the next eight years and ran into people doing a marathon-a- month. Later, I incorporated travel and running with adventure. I have completed 112 marathons and 62 ultramarathons as well as some triathlons, bike races and XC ski races. Foreign events have been marathons or stage races in: Reykjavik, Iceland; Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Berlin, Germany (at the time of the reunification); Nanasivik, NWT, Canada; Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; Himalaya Trek/Run, Nepal, South Asia; and Antarctica. During these events, I met people from all walks of life who sought adventure. As it turns out, the most difficult and best adventure is right in my back yard. In the '70s and '80s, I began meeting people traveling from Badwater, Death Valley, to the top of Mt. Whitney. In 1990, I went out on the course and witnessed about a dozen souls doing it as a race. I was inspired and felt I could do it also. I had a hard time convincing the race director at the time but was finally accepted about a month before the 1991 race. During my training, I was met by the "gurus" of the desert, Richard Benyo and Tom Crawford who were getting ready for their second "Death Valley 300." With their help and encouragement, I was able to complete the race that year and the next two years. They felt I was qualified the be the "Mayor" of Badwater and Denise the "First Lady." I would not have been able to do it without the help of my wife, Denise. She has since completed the course three times.
During these adventures, I have met many wonderful people among the runners, family members, pacers and crew members. A camaraderie and family atmosphere has developed throughout all of the times spent out there in the desert. Everyone has a special quest and many have major conditions to overcome which makes the participation in this event something to behold. With the extremes in temperature and elevation, along with the will to do it, is the physical abuse which can take place with the skin, stomach and kidneys. Now, my main goal is to perpetuate the Badwater Ultramarathon. Hi-Tec has given up promoting this Race. In the meantime, I have developed a nice relationship with Chris Kostman and Dana Tanaka of AdventureCorps. Their efforts at promoting bike races, including the Furnace Creek 508, and with my experience, along with Denise, in coordinating Badwater/Whitney activities, should make this event a classic adventure race. We want previous runners and their crews to return and be challenged by other racers from around the world.
Badwater "Mayor Ben and "First Lady" Denise Jones