The first competitors in this year’s Badwater Ultramarathon have hit the trail this morning and are already running through the early morning heat of Death Valley. Ahead of them is one of the toughest, most challenging courses in all of endurance sports, and most will spend the next two days completing the event.
The Badwater is one of the biggest races in all of the ultra endurance events. It is 135 miles of suffering, beginning in Badwater, California, located in the heart of Death Valley. Competitors begin at 280 feet below sea level, and will run mostly non-stop until they reach the Mt. Whitney Portals, located at 8300 feet up that mountain. Along the way, they’ll pass over three different mountain ranges, and gain more than 13,000 feet of elevation.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll also have to endure the blast furnace temperatures that Death Valley is famous for. Over the next few days, temperatures are expected to hover around the 100ºF mark, although it is not uncommon in July for the temps to climb above 120ºF.
For most of the racers, it will take around 40 hours or so to complete, although the fastest runners will complete the entire 135 mile course in just 24 hours. That’s more than 5.6 miles per hour, over a full day, in extreme heat and conditions. Very impressive stuff!
The Badwater is once again doing a webcast of the race, but it sometimes offers spotty coverage of what is going on. For instance, at the moment, it appears to be someone’s empty hotel room. Hopefully we’ll get better coverage as the race continues.
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