OK, kids, don’t try this at home. Badwater is pretty much the baddest mammy jam of a race out there, and it’s reserved for only the most die-hard ultrarunners on the planet. This 135 mile slog from the Badwater Basin in Death Valley, California (elevation -282 feet) to the Mt. Whitney Portal (elevation 8,371 feet) actually contains 13,000 total feet of elevation gain over several mountains. Oh, and then there’s the heat. Temperatures of 120 degrees or more in the shade (what little there is of it) are not uncommon in Death Valley in July.
As you’d expect for a race in such extreme conditions, many stories of extreme athleticism and perseverance have emerged over the years. Search Google for such legends of the race as Al Arnold, Marshall Ulrich, Scott Weber, and Arthur Webb. Or just pick any year at random and you’ll no doubt find a story of achievement that’s hard to believe, but true.
Badwater is an invitation-only race, so if you’re looking for an extreme hammering in the highs and lows of California, plan to start proving yourself in some other tough ultras first. We salute all the runners who have attempted and finished this grueling race, and look forward to hearing more about the adventures to come in 2012.