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Articles tagged #Badwater
Today's Running News
I didn’t know ultra running was even a thing, until recently.
And then I read about a guy in Kansas last year who was about to complete a 50 kilometer race when, before he could cross the finish line, he was struck by lightning and killed on the spot.
I thought at first it was the saddest thing I’d ever heard, a guy running for hours, pushing himself beyond limits I could fathom, to die in a flash before he could reach the end.
But the more I thought of it, the more I thought I might be wrong. Maybe it was just the opposite. Maybe it was a beautiful, poetic way to exit this realm, testing one’s body, stretching one’s will beyond earthly bounds. The race couldn’t break him. It took a bolt from the sky.
I couldn’t even define the sport, much less participate in it, for my knees hurt when I drive 26 miles in a comfortable car. Ultra running is anything longer than a marathon, really. The sport is a global phenomenon, and big in Alabama, too, from the Bearly Ultra, a 27-mile trail race sponsored by the Birmingham Ultra Trail Society – or BUTS – to 50 mile and 100 mile races across this state.
It seems so surreal, so impossible. I knew Birmingham was home to Micah Morgan, one of the best ultra runners in the country, because I’d read how she finished the Badwater 135, a 135-mile race that starts in Death Valley, Calif., and ends impossibly at the summit of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.
But I’ve come to see the people who are committed to ultra running, and they are very real. I look across the office at my colleague, Bob Sims, who entered a couch-to-5k program eight years ago when he couldn’t run a single mile. Last year, at the age of 62, he ran in two 100 mile races.
I see my colleague Anna Beahm, who started running in high school to get her mind and body right but was driven to longer distances for the joy of competition, for the sheer badness of doing something 99 percent of humanity cannot or will not do. She ran four ultra races last year – three 50ks and a 50-miler.
I can understand those things. Even if I will never be a 1 percenter.
What I didn’t get, until I talked to BUTS president Lisa Booher, was the depth and the breadth and the complexity of the ultra running world in Birmingham. I always thought of running as a solitary exercise, a plodding one-foot-in-front-of-the-other fight against boredom.
“I think that’s why you have to have friends,” Booher said.
Which was not as pointed or personal as it sounds now.
“I fell in love with the running because of the competition,” she went on. “I kept running because of friends.”
That’s what I really didn’t get about this exercise in super endurance and hyper drive. It can be a form of moving meditation, as Booher puts it, a time of self-discovery and exploration. But running 50 or 100 miles requires more than a solitary soul.
It requires a crew and volunteers and an understanding that simply competing in events like these amounts to a part-time job. It takes support and sustenance and friendship. It requires conversation, often, mid-race, about anything but the running itself, or the pain, or the shoes. It requires a community.
It’s a good thing Alabama has one of those. An ultra one.
John Archibald, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is a columnist for Reckon by AL.com. His column appears in The Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Register and AL.com. Write him at email@example.com.(01/03/2020) ⚡AMP
It’s not unusual to find Pamela Chapman Markle running anywhere from 80 to 100 miles each week. It’s just part of her long-distance race training as an ultramarathon runner, and the San Leon resident says she loves it.
“I enjoy the challenge physically and mentally,” said Markle. “It’s always a surprise to me to see how the body will adapt to what you demand of it.”
At 64 years old, Markle is persevering in a passion that pushes her to the limit. And the demands for ultramarathon running — races that go beyond typical marathon length of 26.2 miles — can be tough.
“My current running schedule is very hectic,” said Markle, who runs one long weekend run of up to 25 miles. “Stretching has become a necessity with my aging, and also some strength work.”
Races often range from 50 to 200 miles, with some lasting for an undetermined distance requiring more from 24 to 48 hours. The courses can be varied from cross-country trail races to repeating single loops on a track.
Most of the races that Markle has completed have been between 50 and 150 miles and last up to 48 hours. She has run almost 40 ultramarathons in the last 10 years.
“I have run nine ultramarathons since January 2019, and I have more to complete this year,” said Markle, who works as a certified registered nurse anesthetist.
Preferring to run by herself rather than in crowds, Markle doesn’t train with a running group and has no time in her schedule for the traditional marathons and 5Ks.
“I am disciplined enough to run alone and love it,” said Markle, who’s also careful to manage her nutrition for running.
Her hard work is paying off. Markle is breaking race records in her age division and earning recognition, including running one of the fastest times of 21 hours and 29 minutes in her age group at a 100-mile road race in Florida.
Markle set another record at the MadCity 100K in Wisconsin, where she won the USA Track & Field National Champion for her age group. She also set records in her age group for the Badwater 135 race, a course that covers 135 miles non-stop across California terrain.
Chris Kostman, who organizes the Badwater series of ultra running races, said Markle is redefining what’s possible for runners as they age.
“She has broken the women’s 60-plus age group record during each of the four consecutive Badwater 135 races she’s competed in,” Kostman said. “Her performances are plain to see, and we all stand in awe of Pamela.”
She became interested in distance running a decade ago when a surgeon who she knew ran ultramarathons encouraged her to give running a try. Her first race was called the Rocky Raccoon and 100 miles long. Markle trained for nine months.
“I didn’t train properly and had quite a few injuries,” said Markle, who has three daughters and eight grandchildren. “I decided to do another race with a different training program. Then I got hooked.”(11/15/2019) ⚡AMP
Rocky Raccoon is the fastest 100 mile trail run for men in North America, as well as the oldest running 100 miler in Texas having been first run in 1993 with 29 finishers. It’s described as beautiful, fun, and great for veteran runners as well as those looking for their first 100 mile finish. Any American Citizen may enter the...more...
According to conventional wisdom and most of the sport’s history, women should not win ultraendurance events — ever — when competing against men. But they are.
Three big wins in the past few months have put women’s performance in the longest and most difficult sporting events on the planet firmly in the spotlight. In September, American athlete Sarah Thomas, a cancer survivor, became the first person to swim the English Channel four times without stopping, spending 54 hours in the water and covering 134 miles. In August, German cyclist Fiona Kolbinger won the 2,500-mile nonstop Transcontinental Race across Europe and in January, British runner Jasmin Paris won one of the toughest running races there is, the Spine, a 268-mile jaunt across Britain’s backbone in winter, while breastfeeding her baby.
The proportion of women in ultramarathons was very low at the beginning of the ultrarunning movement. Records began for U.S. 100-mile ultramarathons in the late 1970s, and the proportion of women was basically zero. Now it’s steady at 20 percent. And not only are women running, but they’re winning.
That’s a record for women in the sport. Still, some prominent ultra gatekeepers don’t think women’s participation will equal success across the board.
Women are winning increasingly frequently. Badwater, the Spine, the Moab 240 — the list of big ultramarathons women have crushed goes on, and it’s not just a matter of winning against a weaker male field than usual. When Paris won the Spine in January, running 268 miles from England to Scotland, she smashed the course record by over 12 hours.
Physically, men hold most of the cards: better V02 Max, which measures the rate at which your body can take in and use oxygen, larger hearts, larger muscle mass, better body mass index ratios and stronger and (usually) longer bones. But women do have some advantages: They’re more efficient than men at converting glycogen to energy. Glycogen is the secondary source of fuel used when glucose levels drop, so basically women can access and burn fat better. They also store fat better, itself an advantage because it means they can draw on those stores during punishing longer races.
Psychologically, too, men don’t have an obvious edge over women. Let’s start with pain: If you’re running long distances, you’re likely to experience pain. Despite a popular myth that women have a higher pain threshold than men, studies show that in fact women feel pain more quickly. This works to their advantage in ultras, as a quick response to pain means that they can locate and treat small problems like the onset of blisters early in the race. Also, when women feel pain, brain studies have shown that they mobilize emotion-processing parts of the brain to deal with it and so can train themselves to overcome it, whereas male brains more often use threat-control circuits, giving them increased adrenaline and awareness — but tiring them out faster.
“Science doesn’t really back up anecdotal theories about childbirth making women stronger endurance runners,” says psychologist and keen marathoner Sian Williams, but she adds that there is evidence that women can be better at pacing themselves. A 2015 analysis of more than 90,000 marathon results for 14 races suggested both sexes slowed by the second half, but men more so than women. The study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, suggested that men’s early burst of speed is linked to competitive behavior but causes issues in the latter part of the race. “Perhaps the psychology of ego and risk plays as much a part as physiology in lasting the distance,” Williams concludes.
That psychology of risk emerges also in the way the sexes handle sleep deprivation. Men have the physical advantage: They need less sleep than women by an average of 20 minutes. But men and women have diametrically opposed reactions to lack of sleep: Men’s behavior becomes riskier, and women’s more risk-averse — also an advantage in an ultramarathon, which requires alertness, night navigation and injury management. In what could be the clincher, women have been found to become more selfish and ego-driven with lack of sleep, mimicking typical male behaviors and increasing competitive will, which could give them a final push toward the end of an ultra.
Elisabet Barnes is a two-time women’s champion of the Marathon des Sables, a 251-mile race across the Sahara Desert. She’s also won ultras outright, including Australia’s Big Red Run. For her, the key is less about biology and more about attitude — such runs require “leaving the ego behind, planning all aspects of the race meticulously and having a spiritual presence, leveraging the elements and working with them … rather than fighting the harsh environment,” she says This, she notes, may be easier for female participants.
Though the men have a clear advantage physically, female behaviors can disproportionately benefit them in the long and tough races. That could come in handy for the top ultra women who are setting their sights on that “overall winner” title. Even in the iconic Barkley — where many female running luminaries have tried and failed — 2020 could be the year for that elusive female first.(11/09/2019) ⚡AMP
In 1992, after taking a 15-year break from running, it wasn’t enough for Dean Karnazes’ first run to be 30 miles. Winning the infamous, 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon across Death Valley in 120-degree heat didn’t cut it. Nor did pushing the opposite end of spectrum of human suffering by running a marathon to the South Pole, at -13-degrees F.
From October 12-15, 2005, Karnazes ran 350 miles across Northern California without stopping. He didn’t stop to sleep or to eat, or – in the most stupefying accomplishment of all – he did not even slow down to sample a Sonoma Valley chilled chardonnay. All told, he ran for 80 hours, 44 minutes without a break. He covered ground – from San Francisco to Bodega Bay to Stanford University, in Palo Alto – that many of us would plan for a weeklong road trip in a car.
The outing, which cost him a few toenails, included 40,000 calories of intake over the 3.3(ish) days, required shoe changes every 50 miles or so to accommodate his ever-swelling feet, and wasn’t originally supposed to be quite so long. After winning the Badwater in 2004, Karnazes set the goal to be the first runner to go 300 miles without stopping. Because, why not?(08/17/2019) ⚡AMP
Ashprihanal Aalto is ready to go to sleep.
The 48-year-old Finn just won this year’s Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. He crossed a duct-tape ribbon Friday after running more than 60 miles on each of 48 consecutive days around the same half-mile course in the Jamaica Hills neighborhood of Queens, N.Y.
This is Mr. Aalto’s 15th time completing one of the hardest footraces in the world, which requires runners to cover 3,100 miles over 52 days. It is often compared with ultra-endeavors like the 6633 Arctic Ultra that crosses the Arctic Circle and the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley. The concrete sidewalk course wraps around one block that is home to Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical High School and its baseball field, with a view of Grand Central Parkway.
Guru Sri Chinmoy, an Indian athlete and philosopher who died in New York City in 2007, started the run in its current form in 1997.
His goal: to achieve the seemingly impossible—and in the process, transcend the limitations of the mind through meditation and persistence.
Not to mention, New York City’s summer heat, exhaust from nearby traffic and crowds of children walking to school.
Mr. Aalto isn’t the only one ready for a nap. The race relies on dozens of helpers and volunteers who work around the clock.
Hometown friends, co-workers and fellow disciples of Mr. Chinmoy, sleep very little for the month and a half. They spend all day on chores, including fixing the runners’ shoes and making tea and food for the eight runners participating this year who consume up to 110,000 calories a day total.
“You don’t want to have to come through here wondering what to eat,” said race director Rupantar LaRusso.
“I’m very happy,” Mr. Aalto said, who has won the race eight times now. “I can go do other things, rather than run, run, run.”(08/06/2019) ⚡AMP
The Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. Called 'The Mount Everest of ultramarathons' by The New York Times, is the longest certified footrace in the world. Athletes are able to test themselves in a format unlike any other ultra-marathon event. In order to meet their goal of 3100 miles in 52 days, they must log an average of 59.6 miles per day....more...
Moments after he finished the 135-mile run from Death Valley to Mount Whitney, setting a record in the Badwater 135 race, Japanese ultra runner Yoshihiko Ishikawa dropped to one knee. The reason wasn’t fatigue or relief over the accomplishment. He was asking his girlfriend to marry him.
Ishikawa finished the race Tuesday in 21 hours 33 minutes 1 second, breaking Pete Kostelnick’s 21:56:32 mark, set in 2016.
The Badwater race, one of the most prestigious and grueling ultras, started Monday at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest elevation in North America, and ended at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States.
The race covers three mountain ranges, with 14,600 feet of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100 of cumulative descent, according to its website. An ultra is anything longer than the traditional 26.2-mile marathon.
After Ishikawa’s memorable finish and proposal (she said yes), there were plenty of tears.
Last year, Ishikawa, a 31-year-old engineer, won the Spartathlon, tracing the 153-mile route that Pheidippides ran before the battle of Marathon, in 22:54:40.
Patrycja Bereznowska of Poland was the women’s Badwater winner (and second to Ishikawa overall) with a time of 24:13:24 that was more than 90 minutes faster than the record set by Alyson Venti three years ago. Bereznowska also won the Spartathlon, in 2017.(07/20/2019) ⚡AMP
Recognized globally as "the world’s toughest foot race," this legendary event pits up to 90 of the world’s toughest athletes runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers against one another and the elements. Badwater 135 is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA, the...more...
Dean Karnazes is one of the most famous runners in the world.He's known for running 50 marathons in all 50 states over 50 consecutive days and was named one of Time Magazines "100 Most Influential People in the World." Karnazes also won the world's toughest footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon. He ran 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of the summer.
What is his secret to success? Good genes. Karnazes says he has his parents to thank for his runners body and ability to run without injuries.
That's right, after years of running Karnazes has never had to take time off because of an injury.One of Dean's missions is to help all of us get off the couch and on our feet.
Dean's tips:1. All you need is a pair of sneakers to get started
2. Start small - try running to the end of your street for the first couple of days. Slowly extend the run to a couple of blocks. Before you know it you will have your fist mile under your belt. Then sign up for a 5K
3. You can do it alone-just you and your music or audiobooks-- or you can do it with family or friends. Start a walking club in your community. Make new friends, or new bonds with family members.
4. A great path to physical and mental fitness
5. It doesn't matter if you're running or walking. Either way you're out there enjoying the same benefits.(06/05/2019) ⚡AMP
For the first half of Joyce Lee's life, the only sports she did was swimming and gymnastics. "I never would have thought in a million years I would come to enjoy running," says 37-year-old Joyce. In college she spent her summers teaching private swim lessons.
"I needed another form of exercise, so I turned to running since it seemed like a simple way of getting in some cardio. I didn't own any running sneakers so I just wore my gym shoes and set out to run for an hour in my hilly neighborhood. I had no idea how far I went, or what my pace was; the goal was to just keep moving," she remembers.
At first she was only using running to stay fit but that changed. "Running has been a multi-faceted way to maintaining my overall physical, mental and emotional health. Getting the heart pumping has an amazing way to bringing issues to the front of mind for me, and allowing for some creativity to work its magic.
I am able to sort out problems, formulate new ideas and work through painful patches of my life. Running has become an essential part of my life," Joyce says.
On Juanurary 1, 2013 she decided she would run at least a mile every day for a year. "I often like to fly by the seat of my pants and live with little planning, so this presented a very interesting challenge for me. Any sensible person would carve out time in their morning, wake up early and fit their daily run then, but that wasn't me.
In my first year, I flew over 75,000 miles across the Pacific and around the country for business, weddings and of course a handful of road races. The time zone changes, fatigue from travel, unpredictable weather, lack of facilities required me to get very creative with how I would fit my mileage in.
I have run on a cruise ship track, airport terminals, stairs, and even a hotel hallway on my birthday at midnight. I am now into my sixth year of running every single day," she says with pride.
She likes the idea of the Run The World Challenge and this is why she signed up. "It is a wonderful way for runners near and far to work together as a team, joined by their passion, to work towards a common goal. This is an awesome way for runners to socialize online and cheer each other on," says Joyce.
Recently she placed first in the 50 mile Run De Vous Ultra. "I was adequately heat trained from having served as crew and pacer at the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon in Death Valley, I was able to successfully run the entire 50 mile distance.
The heat reached as high as 101 degrees in Morgan Hill (California), but I was able to outrun the second place runner by over two hours. It felt incredible to cross the finish as first overall winner rather than first female, something I never imagined I'd ever experience. I'll never forget it," she says.
Some of her PR's include 20:02 for 5K, 1:34:20 for the half, 3:27:20 for the marathon and 29:41:23 for 100 miles.(08/29/2018) ⚡AMP
RUN THE WORLD: Henry Ward has been sober since November 17, 2008 and after his son was born in March of 2012 he noticed he was becoming squirrelly.
"Even though I wasn't drinking or using," Henry says. "I became restless. Sort of like a dry drunk. I knew I needed to do something."
He was going to visit a friend and Henry asked what they were going to do. "My friend was thinking about running a 8k race. He said he would run if I did. I said sign me up! I didn't even know how far an 8k was," Henry remembers.
"I hated every step of that race, and vowed never to run again. Every time a runner past me, I was angry. I honestly wanted to trip or elbow all runners I saw. But when I finished, I received a glass medallion. I also had a feeling that I will never forget. A feeling of accomplishment, and happiness, that prompted me to seek out another race as we drove back to my friend's house." Henry signed up for another 5k the following weekend and then a 4 miler. He was hooked. Henry is from Boston and currently lives in Tempe, Arizona. He is married and has a 6-year-old son.
"Family is always first, running comes second," he says. He is a chef by trade. "I get to sweat, lift things and log 30,000 steps at work alone! Plus eat! I love to eat. I eat 4000 calories a day," Henry says.
"I run to survive, to help me deal with life on life's terms. When I run and exercise I feel alive and it helps my day flow. If I didn't find running I would be a neurotic mess." He loves how he feels during and after running.
"The Runner's high, and endorphin kick was like no other. I am thankful that I found running, and it has changed my life for the better. Not only does it keep me sober and it helps me feel balanced," he says.
He believes that anyone can change, if they want to. "If I can change, anyone can! I have come along way, but know that I still have a lot of work to do on my personal character defects."
He moved up from the 5K to doing ultras. In 2017 he completed the 250K six day stage race, 4deserts Patagonia. In 2018 he did the Boston Quad which is running the Boston Marathon four consecutive times.
"The official marathon was number four. We had snow, freezing rain, 50 mile an hour winds and torrential downpours," Henry says. He wants to help inspire others and motivate many along the way. That is one of the reasons he joined the Run The World Challenge.
"I think the challenge is really cool because I get to connect with people who are doing the same thing for different reasons, and people from around the world."
He has two 100 mile races coming up and he hopes to qualify for the 2019 Badwater 135 race in death valley.(08/01/2018) ⚡AMP