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Death Valley Ultramathon

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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13,909 posts
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Death Valley Ultramathon

For those who can't quite persuade themselves to park the air-conditioned car and go for a half-hour hike at Badwater, it may make you dizzy to read this.

http://www.badwater.com/

This is the website of the Badwater Ultramarathon, perhaps the most demanding athletic event on earth. It is by invitation only, to a limited number of the world's elite ultramarathoners.

It starts at Badwater, which you all know has an elevation of 282'/86m below sea level. They run along the road past Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, the Sand Dunes, Stove Pipe Wells Panamint Springs, Lone Pine, and up the Mt. Whitney Portal Road to an elevation close to 8400'/2500m. The distance is 135 miles. The record times are in the 24-27 hours range. This happens EVERY SUMMER, usually in mid to late July. If you've been to DV then (or read anything on this forum), you know how hot it gets.

Last year, 67 of 85 starters finished. In 2002 and 2003, a woman won it (Pam Reed); she has been in the top 5 every time she's run. Folks up to their 60s do it. A few people have become fatally ill. Even though everyone is a world-class ultramarathoner, they do some creative things to train; they have to, because of the wide elevation difference over the course and the extreme elevations and climate. During the race, they have support crews in vehicles that supply them with water, energy drinks, new socks, or whatever--but the runner has to do his or her own footwork.

So now you know more than you ever wanted to know about crazy people who go to Death Valley in the summer!

Charlotte, North...
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1. Re: Death Valley Ultramathon

Thanks for the info. Frisco Roadrunner! I had heard something about the ultramarathon on the Travel Channel, but you gave some great info. I hadn't heard. We drove from Badwater to Lone Pine back in May and I just can't believe that people do that in about a day! That is one heck of a haul out of Death Valley and then you have to climb out of the Panamint Valley (I think that's right) before descending to Lone Pine. Certainly one of the most grueling atheletic events one could pursue!

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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2. Re: Death Valley Ultramathon

It's quite amazing, when you think of it; to finish in 24 hours, you would average 10-11 minutes to the mile. The entire course trends uphill to some degree, because Badwater is the low point in the entire hemisphere. There are some fairly level areas and dips. But the east climb up Townes' Pass has to be a killer-- and then there's the ascent to Whitney Portal (not all the way to the summit). To maintain the pace, they're doing 5 or 6 minute miles in some places.

No one gets rich from this race, although people have sponsors and some write books or make appearances. But the prize everyone is after is a belt buckle for successfully finishing. To be an official finisher and win the prize, they have to do it in under 60 hours. That's an average of 27 minutes per mile.

The first year Pam Reed won, she was five hours ahead of the first man. She has written a book, and in it she said that any ultramarathoner could do 135 miles in 60 hours easily in "normal" conditions. And that while it's tempting to take it easy in this race and give yourself more time, the tradeoff is that you're exposed to the heat and sun, being dehydrated and sunburned and raked by the wind that much longer. So the weather can actually be an incentive to go faster!

A few guys have run Badwater to Whitney Portal AND kept going to the summit of Mt. Whitney (22 more miles, 14,505' elevation) AND turned around and retraced their steps back to Badwater--I think with a catnap and a meal along the way. This feat has been named the Death Valley 300. I think the record is in the 85-hour range. And if THAT isn't enough, one man did two consecutive Death Valley 300's (Badwater to the summit of Mt. Whitney and back) in ten days.

Now, anyone who thinks Death Valley is too hot in the summer and you just can't get out of the car for an hour-long hike, please raise your hand.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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13,909 posts
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3. Re: Death Valley Ultramathon

Results of the recent Ultramarathon:

For the first time, a runner has finished in less than 24 hours (2, in fact)

tahoedailytribune.com/article/…107250039

And here is an old story from CBS, where participants talk about what this event really feels like.

cbsnews.com/stories/…main682563.shtml

Charlotte, North...
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4. Re: Death Valley Ultramathon

AWESOME!!! That is quite incredible IMO. Thank you so much Frisco Roadrunner for keeping us all informed!

5. Re: Death Valley Ultramathon

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