Found on RunnersWorld and written by Michelle Hamilton
Ultrarunner and Runner’s World blogger Dean Karnazes describes the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon in California’s Death Valley as “hell, only hotter.” This year’s race, which concluded this morning, fit the bill. Daytime temperatures reached 120, with the road surface reported to be 170 degrees. And still they ran. The heat, of course, is part of the challenge that drew 97 competitors from 25 nations to the starting line in Badwater basin, which, at 280 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. Considered among the toughest footraces in the world, Badwater makes runners endure unrelenting sun over three mountain ranges, climb a cumulative 13,000 feet and drop 4,700 feet before finishing near the summit of Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada. Portuguese athlete Carlos Gomes De Sá, 39, who was running his first Badwater, took first place in 24:28:16, followed by Australian Grant Maughan in 24:53:57. 2011 Badwater winner Oswaldo Lopez and Sá ran together on the climb up Panamint Springs to Father Crowley Point. Sá eventually pulled ahead with Lopez finishing third in 25:27:03. Cincinnati resident and schoolteacher Harvey Sweetland Lewis III was the first American to cross. He finished fourth in 25:49:50. Australian Catherine Todd, 34, was the women’s champion in 29:59:29. Veteran ultrarunner Pam Reed—Badwater’s female champ in 2005 and overall winner in 2002 and 2003—trailed Todd during the last quarter of the race, taking the women’s second spot 40 minutes behind Todd. This year’s field was nearly a 50-50 split between veterans and rookies. Forty-nine athletes were running their first Badwater, 48 were back for their second, third, or, as in the case of Reed and Karnazes, their 11th edition. Karnazes ran 32:27:17, good for 17th place. Keith Straw (pictured, in tutu, near the start), a Pennsylvania resident by way of Britain, crossed the finish in 42:44:46, over the average finishing time of 40 hours but well under the 48-hour cutoff. Fifteen runners did not finish.