Runners to Challenge 135 Miles on a New, Epic Route Finishing on Mt. Whitney, but which is forced to bypass Death Valley National Park*
Lone Pine, CA – AdventureCORPS, Inc., an event production firm specializing in ultra-endurance sports events, will host the 37th Anniversary Badwater 135 on July 21-23, 2014. Recognized globally as “the world’s toughest foot race,” this legendary event pits up to 100 of the world’s toughest athletes against one another and the elements. In temperatures up to 120F and at altitudes as high as 10,000 feet, runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers from 25 countries and 24 American states face off in a grueling 135-mile trek non-stop from Lone Pine, through Horseshoe Meadow, Cerro Gordo ghost town, and Darwin, before finishing high on Mt. Whitney, CA. The race is the most demanding and most revered running race on the planet.
The Badwater 135 covers 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Lone Pine, CA to the summit of Horseshoe Meadows (elev. 10,000 feet / 3048m), then crosses the Owens Valley to a 5,500 foot dirt road ascent to the authentic western ghost town of Cerro Gordo. Next follows a trek to the entrance to Darwin and then the final dramatic ascent to the end of the highest paved point on Mt. Whitney, CA at 8,360’ (2530m). The Badwater course covers three mountain pass ascents for a total of over 17,000’ (5,800m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 12,700’ (4450m) of cumulative descent. The finish line at Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. More info.
A true “challenge of the champions,” the 2014 AdventureCORPS Badwater 135 features 43 Badwater veterans and 55 rookies: die hard “ultra-runners” of every speed and ability, as well a athletes who have the necessary running credentials, but are primarily known for their exploits as adventure racers, mountaineers, triathletes, or in other extreme pursuits. With the most international field in race history, the athletes represent twenty-four countries by citizenship or residence: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States of America (with 24 American states represented).
There are 19 women and 79 men. The youngest runner is 24 (rookie entrant Nicole Matera of Fullerton, CA) while the oldest is 69 (veteran Bob Becker of Fort Lauderdale, FL), with an average age of 46. Full details available on the race roster.
The men’s course record is held by Valmir Nunez of Brazil with a time of 22:51:29 set in 2007, while the women’s course record of 26:16:12 was set in 2010 by Jamie Donaldson of Littleton, CO. It is expected that the winner of the 2013 AdventureCORPS Badwater Ultramarathon will finish in 22 to 26 hours. The average finishing time is approximately 40 hours, while the overall time limit is 48 hours, as compared to the 60 hour limited used in the races held through 2010. For those who finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater belt buckle. There is no prize money.
The 2014 race field is particularly competitive. Veteran contenders include 2013 men’s champion Carlos Sa of Portugal, 2013 men’s runner-up Grant Maughan of Australia, 2011 men’s champion, 2013 men’s third place finisher Oswaldo Lopez of Madera, CA (also place 2nd in 2009, 2010, and 2012; Mexico citizenship), and 2013 4th place finisher Harvey Lewis of Ohio.
The women’s field, with 19 entrants, includes 10 rookies and 9 veterans. The leading veteran contender would be Pam Reed, 53, of Jackson, WY, the 2002 and 2003 overall champion who also won the women’s field in 2005 and was the second female in 2012 and 2013.
Every year is a new year at the Badwater 135, with rookies and “previously unknown” athletes surprising the contenders with top performances. New stars will shine as the race unfolds.
The Badwater 135 is the final event in the Badwater Ultra Cup, a three race series which began with the 51-mile Badwater Cape Fear in March, continued with the 81-mile Badwater Salton Sea in May, and now concludes with the Badwater 135 in July. Those runners who complete all three events in the same calendar year will be featured on the Badwater.com website and their virtues will be extolled throughout the Internet and in future editions of BADWATER Magazine. Seven athletes have completed the first two Badwater races and will now toe the line at the third and final race.
Now in its fifteenth year producing this race, AdventureCORPS is pleased to welcome the support of race sponsors Skechers USA, Nathan Performance Gear, Caring House Project Foundation, ZZYXXZ, Zensah, DII Computers, and ZombieRunner.com. AdventureCORPS also appreciates the support of Pizza Factory, Dow Villa, Mount Whitney Hostel, the community of Lone Pine, CA, and other generous companies and individuals. More info here.
An Official Charity of the Badwater Ultramarathon is the Challenged Athletes Foundation. As one of the very few charities that provides grants directly to athletes with a physical disability, the Challenged Athletes Foundation has raised over thirty million dollars and directly assisted thousands of challenged athletes world wide. AdventureCORPS also supports the Bald Head Island Conservancy and we are members of both the Conservation Alliance, and One Percent For The Planet. One of the goals of the Badwater 135 is to raise funds for, and awareness of, these organizations.
This year, nearly 70 of the race entrants are competing on behalf of a charity of their choice. Some of those include Caring House Project Foundation, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Death Valley Natural History Association, Special Operations Warriors Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and others.
This year’s race celebrates the 37th anniversary of ultrarunning pioneer and human potential guru Al Arnold’s original trek from Badwater to Mt. Whitney in 1977. More about Al’s 1977 run. Arnold competed in a solo effort: just Arnold and his support crew against the elements and the clock. The official head-to-head race began ten years after Arnold’s pioneer trek, in 1987, and has been held annually without serious incident, fatality, or any citations issued by any branch of law enforcement. More about the original race in 1987.
Historically the race has begun at Death Valley National Park and traversed a 135-mile direct route from Badwater to the end of the road on Mt. Whitney, however that route is not available to the participants in 2014 because the self-described “new sheriff in town,” Park Superintendent Kathleen Billings, has instituted an arbitrary “moratorium” against selected sporting events within the Park while her staff conducts a “safety review” of the events, even as they are not even happening. Only nine sporting events are held annually in Death Valley National Park, five of them hosted by AdventureCORPS. Of those five, three simply are not happening this year, one has been relocated to Nevada, and the Badwater 135 has seen 2/3 of its route changed to bypass the National Park. Oddly, three of the other sporting events are being allowed to take place in 2014, “moratorium” notwithstanding.
The Badwater 135, and all other AdventureCORPS events, have impeccable safety records, with no fatalities, no serious injuries, no car crashes or collisions, and no citations issued against anyone associated with any of the events in their 25-year-plus history. The continuance of all the sporting events is supported by Congressman Paul Cook (R – CA 8), the Inyo County Supervisors, Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, Death Valley Chamber of Commerce, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, and civic and business leaders along the route and beyond. Hundreds of sporting event enthusiasts sent letters of complaint to the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and other government leaders.
The 2014 version of the route has over 17,000’ (5,200m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 12,700’ (3900m) of cumulative descent, while the traditional Death Valley-based route has 13,000’ (3962m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 4,700’ (1433m) of cumulative descent. Though the 2014 edition does not start in Badwater, nor traverse Death Valley and Panamint Valley, the actual topography of the new route is significantly more challenging and very much worthy of the moniker, “world’s toughest foot race.”