I recently attended a running club meeting where the guest speaker talked about his experiences during the Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon. This is a 135 mile race that starts at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere at 280’ (85m) below sea level. Following 135 miles of paved roads, the race finishes at Mt. Whitney Portal at 8360′ (2533m). The Badwater course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 13,000’ (3962m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 4,700’ (1433m) of cumulative descent. The Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places or landmarks with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Keeler and Lone Pine.
The speaker, Neil Runions, was one of three Canadians chosen to compete in the event. Runners must apply to this event and are chosen based on minumum qualifications—officially finishing a 100-miler, running history, training, health and several other factors.
The race has a cut-off time of 60 hours. Finish in 60 hours or less and you get a medal. If you finish in under 48 hours, you get the medal and a cool belt buckle. Neil finished in just under 43 hours. He went through 4 pairs of runners and survived with only a couple of blisters. He had a 2-vehicle, 4-person support team. No aid stations are provided during the race, rather, each entrant must provide their own support team which must consist of a minimum of two people.
The article, “Veterans Triumph at the 135-Mile Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon,” by Chris Kostman, offers some interesting details and facts about the race.
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