Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kind of Crazy

To each his own. I am sure that many people think that anyone who does a marathon is kind of nuts. Well, as a multiple-times marathoner, I saw something on TV tonight that seems quite nutty – the Badwater (aptly named) Ultra-Marathon, run each July across Death Valley. I had heard about this before, but was reminded about it tonight while watching “Nature” on PBS.

This race is 135 miles long, and is run non-stop. It starts at 280 feet below sea level, and ends up at 8,300 feet elevation at the Mount Whitney Portals. Cumulatively, racers gain 13,000 feet in elevation while crossing three mountain ranges after getting out of Death Valley. The winner finishes in less than 24 hours, which is pretty amazing. That is an average pace of 5.6 miles per hour, much of it across Death Valley in July! I don't think that Death Valley was named as a joke to scare people away from paradise, do you?

In 2008, 82 people started the race and 75 finished. The last place finisher took just over 57 hours, finishing nearly a day and a half after the winner! But they finished! The finishers that year ranged in age from 27 to 66, with most of them in their 40’s and 50’s, amazingly enough.

Do I think I would ever attempt this race? Not even tempted. It seems kind of crazy to put your body through this. How about you – any thoughts of ever doing something like this, of testing yourself to the absolute limit of your endurance?

If this race seems impressive (and it is, even though it is also nuts), go here to read about a non-human ultra-marathoner that goes thousands of miles non-stop.


Cheryl said...

Hi Art....well as a walker rather than a runner I don't really have a right to say.
But I will anyway....they must be crazy....that can only be called endurance to its highest level...

I have a friend who runs.....he won a marathon yesterday, aged 60.....I think he is great.....

Elsbeth said...

I read an article on Badwater not too long ago! The finishers "medal" is actually a giant belt buckle, which I think is really neat.

What's also interesting is how closely monitored the athletes are while they are participating in the race- they have to be at temperatures like that!