Friday, July 13, 2012

funnnnnn facts!

It's here it's here it's here it's HERE!

Nope, not the olympics yet, but Monday marks the start of the 35th annual Badwater Ultramarathon!!  Badwater takes you 135 miles through the heart of Death Valley, mid-July, and eventually up Mount Whitney to finish.

Why would i, the girl who in the past has whined extensively about running a race in high temps and running a race that had mountain plopped into the middle, be attracted to what is arguably the hardest foot race on the planet??

Well, I assure you, i have NO desire to ever personally run this race.  I know that if you train hard enough and long enough, you can do anything, but every body has limits, and i know i could never safely run 135 miles in 120 degree heat.  Ever.  But MAN, if anyone ever wants me to be on their pit crew!

So what is the deal with badwater?
- It's really exclusive (you need major credentials as an ultra-marathoner to qualify, they don't want people to die on the course.  And it seems pretty easy to die on the course.
- There is usually less than 100 people running it every year
- The course is 135 miles, starting at the lowest point on the continental US, ending at the highest point.  Thats a net elevation gain of 13,000 feet.  (To put it in perspective, i start whining at 350 ft elevation gains!)
- If you think it sounds hard now, it used to be the Badwater 146.  At that time, the end was at the summit of Mt. Whitney.  The forest service put a kibosh on racing up the mountain, so the race officially ends at the Mt. Whitney Portal.  Runners are welcome to get a permit to then finish to the summit on their own.  And some still DO.
- All runners are equipped with a fully staffed support crew consisting of one, but usually two vans, and  3-6 people.  The vans will have coolers of ice, food, and full medical support in case anything happens.  
This is super fun!
- The race was started when Al Arnold up and decided to run the course.  Just because it sounded fun to him.  Because runners are bat-shit crazy, subsequent runners have done the "double-crossing" (running to the summit of mount whitney and then all the way back through death valley) And in 94, Scott weber did a triple cross.  Not to be out done, in 01 Marshall Ulrich did the "Badwater quad" Yes.  Thats four 146 mile runs back to back.  Do i have any takers for 5??
- That crazy Scott Weber was also the first person to do the Badwater Ultra with no crew.  He carried all his stuff with him.
- The record for the 146 mile course is 33 hours, 54 minutes (?!?!?!?!) and the record for the 135 mile course is 22 hours, 51 minutes (men) and 26 hours, 16 minutes (women)
- The record high in Death Valley is 134.
- The average low in July is a refreshing 90 degrees
The female record holder
- The temps in July reached 130 in 2007, 2005, and 1998.  (not good odds if you ask me!)  Although Mondays temps in Death Valley look to be a pleasant 110-115 degrees.  (The average high for July is 116)
- Your shoes melt.  Like for real.  

In recent years, badwater has started to offer live web streaming of the race.  They have camera's mounted at all the check points, so you can monitor the runners as they complete the hardest race ever thought up.  I will be checking in periodically all day Monday and Tuesday!  Chicago's own Scott Jacaway of Downers Grove will be running it again!  Check out the rest of the roster HERE.

I think the coolest thing is that some of these people have full time jobs.  To able to train for an event like this and manage a job and a family is something that i am in awe of.  You guys are awesome.  Good luck to everyone competing in the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon!!


  1. Nice summary of the race. I will have to check out the live stream. There is an awesome documentary of the Badwater Ultra called "Running on The Sun." It makes running a marathon on a hot day look like a walk in the park!

    1. The guy at the very end of the video is the best - "why don't you quit??" "I love this!" I really hope to be like that some day!

    2. Yeah, it takes a certain kind of mentality to do that race. You've got to love the challenge. By the way, I don't see how someone could do the race without a huge support crew. The guy who carried all of his own supplies is one tough dude! Your write up reminded me that I own the dvd of "Running on the Sun". I just checked and they are selling it for $159! Must be out of print. I should have a screening party!

  2. One of the guys I used to run with ran Badwater and a couple of us (not me, are you kidding?) crewed for him. Cannot begin to imagine that hellacious heat. I mean really.

  3. This just blows my mind. HOW?? How are people capable of doing this race? Incredible. Makes me feel like an idiot for complaining about those 85 degree temps during a 3 mile run...

  4. There is a lady in Spokane who runs Badwater. She is a physician and raises money for something while she trains (I should know which charity, but I don't). I think that she is absolutely incredible. All of the athletes that run Badwater are not only hardcore, but they are amazing athletes.