Telma’s Crew

See attached- NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

contact-Garen Yegparian
[email protected]

Telma’s Crew

Northridge, CA – Telma Ghazarian Altoon is competing in the world’s toughest 
footrace in about one month.  But no one achieves success in such events alone. 
 All the racers are backed up by crews of three or four (the maximum allowed) 

Telma’s crew will consist of four, and is very international.  Currently, one 
slot is open because two people who had planned on filling it were sidelined by 
health issues.  The search is on for a replacement.  Meanwhile, the other three 
are busily preparing for the big two-days in July the Badwater 135 race spans.

The crew’s sole purpose for those days will be to see to the racer’s, Telma’s, 
needs.  They will support her by running beside her not only to hand her water 
and food, but also to keep her from running too fast!  They will spray her with 
water to cool down in the 120-130°F heat of the desert, make sure all supplies 
are immediately available (e.g fresh socks), keep the support van close for the 
brief naps she may take, etc. In short, they are there to make sure all Telma 
does is focus on the grueling task of running 135 miles and 14,600 feet of gain 
in the desert.

Valod Shaverdian, an engineer born in Iran, is the crew chief, and responsible 
for making sure all the nitty-gritty arrangements are made and a tight schedule 
adhered to.  He is the first Armenian to serve in that position in this 
three-decade old race.  He is most proud of being his daughter, Audrey’s, dad.  
But he also brings a dozen years’ worth of hiking/mountaineering/running 
experience.  Before seeing the documentary "Running on the Sun: The Badwater 
135" in 2006, Valod had never been involved in any organized sports and claims 
“I couldn’t run to save my life”.  But the film’s presentation of the human 
spirit and the extremes human bodies can endure fascinated him and he started 
running.  Since then, he has finished eleven half marathons, four marathons, 
and two 50 kilometer races.  His current passion is hiking.  Besides summiting 
most of the major peaks in Southern California, he has climbed Mt. Ararat in 
2014 and Mt. Elbrus (in Russia near Georgia, the highest mountain in Europe) in 
2017, both dormant volcanoes.  He aspires to complete a 50-mile event and climb 
South America’s highest peak, Aconcagua, in Argentina.

Balmore Flores has been running since he was 13 in El Salvador where he was 
born.  Immigrating to the USA at age 17, he ran the mile and two-mile for his 
high school track and cross-country teams for one season.   After graduating, 
Balmore joined the US Navy and kept running for fun, but stayed away from 
competitive events except for a few marathons here and there.  Like Valod, a 
film inspired him.  In March 2013, seeing the film “Indulgence: 1,000 Miles 
Under the Colorado Sky” made him realize that running 100 miles or more is 
possible.  After that, there was no stopping him.  He has completed the LA and 
San Diego Marathons multiple times, along with the Santa Clarita, Mountains to 
Beach, and Boston Marathons.  Among his “short” races are the Valley Crest 
Trail 1/2 Marathon and Xterra Trail 21K (“K” is commonly used in racing circles 
for kilometer).  He has six 50K (33 mile) Ultra-Trail races under his belt –  
Bulldog (twice), Speedgoat (twice), Bandit, and Holcom Valley.  He has the 
Leona Divide and Avalon Ultra-Trail 50 milers under his belt as well.  Finally, 
in the 100 mile Ultra-Trail category, the Chimera (twice), Angeles Crest 
(twice), Bryce, Wasatch, and Born to Run (twice) have all seen the underside of 
his feet!  He hopes to return to Central America upon retirement and is already 
signed up to run the Ultra-Trail Guatemala. However, he’s concerned that “it 
might not happen because the volcano Fuego has erupted twice already this year, 
and the race course goes up that volcano.  I am looking into running Ulta-Trail 
Fuego Y Agua in Nicaragua in 2019.”

Hakoop Abnoos, like Valod, was born in Iran and currently resides in Burbank.  
He is a black belt in karate.  He was been passionate about track and field in 
his teenage years when he  participated in multiple 400m, 1600m and 10k races 
in Iran’s Hamahaykakan (pan-Armenian) games, continuing into young adulthood.  
One of Hakoop's life-long dreams was to climb Mount Ararat.  After achieving 
this goal in 2014, he got passionate about hiking and mountaineering and went 
on to climb Mount Orizaba – Mexico highest, and Chimborazo, Cayambe, Illiniza 
Norte, Pichincha, and Pasochoa in Ecuador. In 2015, he completed the LA 
marathon which reignited his passion for the sport of running.  He has since 
completed four additional marathons, two 50Ks, two 50 milers, and several half 
marathons and 10k runs.  He placed first for his age group in two of those 
competitions.  His biggest goals are to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and 
participate in a 100-miler.

All this running and training is necessary since the crew will also have to 
endure the same conditions as Telma, but will be taking turns in running with 



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