In just a few weeks I get the honor of being part of the crew that will support Jim Schroeder, or Animal as he’s often referred, as he completes his first Badwater 135. Badwater is one of ultra-running’s most difficult courses, pitting the participants against
California’s extreme terrain and weather as well as themselves. The 2014 course contains a grueling 19,000 feet of elevation gain, and two ascents into the Sierra Nevada.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching him perform at just about every formal and informal trail and road running event in Florida. I thought you guys might like to learn a little about this spectacular runner and the journey that brought him to Badwater.
To hear him tell it, earning the moniker ‘Animal’ was mere happenstance; the nickname simply stuck after a running buddy created a giant birthday card wherein a picture of his face was transposed onto the body of Animal the Muppet. But to most of his running associates Jim’s moniker is a reminder of his persistence and unwavering spirit on and off of the road. No exaggeration.
Off the road, Jim completed three deployments to the Vietnam War zone while serving within the US Navy then went on to earn a PhD in Electrical Engineering. He’s successfully held positions within several large defense contractors and currently works as a Research Professor at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL.
Jim says that running has always played a big part in his life. “I grew up running: Running to the sand box; running to the back yard; running to the pine grove; running to the neighbors; running to pick wild raspberries; running after my siblings; running from angry buzzing wasps; running for cover from severe electrical storms; running in heat, humidity and frosty cold and snow; running for pure simple joy; running everywhere and anywhere.”
On the road, Jim enjoyed success in shorter distances and could boast a 20 minute 5k. But a sudden injury in June 2000 sidelined him. He chronicled the agony and ecstasy he
experienced that accompanied that experience in Zen Track Rambling. During his return to the road he found that although he could no longer run competitively he could maintain a slow pace infinitely.
An ultra-marathoner was born.
Having since completed over 110 cumulative marathons and ultra-marathons it becomes easy to see that there is no stopping him.
Jim Schroeder is definitely an animal: focused, determined, smart. I look forward to unleashing him upon Badwater in a month.