By Larry Robbins
Ultrarunning is a test of endurance, mentally and physically, and a test of the way we live our lives. Each day the sun rises and sets, a 24-hour period that our bodies and souls naturally live by. Our lifetime on Earth gives us many blessings for which we are thankful. The Badwater 135 is an endurance course that tests how well we prepare to run the race, both the 135 miles and the life course. Your life course is decided by you. The way to run the Badwater 135 miles is a different story.
Endurance runs require knowing the course and environment. Death Valley was once a great glorious lake, but is now a desert valley, the lowest point being 279 feet below sea level. 134 degrees has been recorded at Furnace Creek. The valley is surrounded by high mountain ranges. Telescope is the highest mountain at 11,043 feet above sea level. If you wish to run the Death Valley 135 miles, consider the change in environments from hot-as-hell to below freezing.
Seldom does Death Valley get rain along the course. You will be experiencing near 10% humidity both day and night. Hydration will be your major concern each mile. There is no water along the course unless you have a crew. Sand storms are seldom, but may be a factor. The sun will be a factor. Temperatures will reach 120-130 in the day in summer when the endurance race happens. Along the course you will encounter: blowing sand, tumble weeds, lonely sounds of birds, very little traffic, heat vortexes, mirages, visions due to the layers of temperatures across the lake bed.
Mount Whitney Portal awaits at 8,360 feet, the finish. Originally the finish was at the top of Mt. Whitney. The highest and lowest points in the continental USA. Finishing the course near 30 hours would be a testament to your life style and endurance. Pete Kostelnick ran the course in 21:56:32 (night start) and Valmir Nunes in 22:51:29 (day start), the best for men. Alyson Venti ran the course in 25:53:07 (night start) and Jamie Donaldson in 26:16:12 (day start). Knowing the course and conditions and preparing for them will help you complete the run and maybe place your name among these great endurance runners.