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217km Death Valley Ultra-Marathon (And Other Ways To Spend The Week)

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Phil Stewart
Phil Stewart
Lisa Tamati

A 217 km foot race is tough enough, in even the best of circumstances. Try running one in Death Valley…
Last week I met Lisa Tamati – New Zealand’s no.1 female ultra-distance athlete. Lisa is preparing to compete in the world’s toughest distance event: the 217km Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley, California, recognised as the world’s toughest foot race. Lisa was running for 10 hours at my local gym to fundraise for her trip in July. I joined others running alongside her that day and learned-first hand what it takes to compete in the world’s longest distance endurance events.
Now I’m no long-distance athlete. Years ago, I used to go for hour-plus long runs, but now I stick to regular short-and-sharp interval training-type running. It’s much easier on the knees and ankles, I find. However, I’ll do most anything for a worthy cause so I booked a full hour and a half on a treadmill. Could I run for that long?
As it turns out, I could. Others who took part in the run too were much more impressive. One gym member took it upon herself (without planning to) to run a marathon (42km) during the day. That is no small feat with planning and preparation…to just step up and run that distance unplanned is monumental. I guess everyone involved was motivated in some way – as it always is when people get together to support a worthy cause.
Check out Lisa’s website here and see how she’s building her campaign for her second successful completion of the Badwater event.

So what exactly does the Badwater Ultramarathon involve? Here are details of what Lisa has to look forward to:

The Badwater Ultramarathon
The lowest point of the Badwater course: Death Valley

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.

Covering 217km non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55c), it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.

The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Mt. Whitney Portal at 8360' (2533m). The Badwater course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 3962m of cumulative vertical ascent and 1433m of cumulative descent.
Sound like you? Or maybe something a little different? Here are some more ultra marathons from around the world.
Marathon des Sables, Sahara Desert
The Marathon des Sables stacks the equivalent of five-and-a-half marathons - 240 km - over six days cross the heart of the Sahara Desert. And to add insult to injury, it's a "self-sustaining" trek, meaning racers carry all their food, gear, and tent on their backs. In temperatures of up to 50 degrees. Hot.
Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon
Visiting the Arctic Circle in the dead of winter is hardcore enough for most. But not for some. For three years now, competitors have come to the edge of the world to race 560 km from the Yukon all the way up to the banks of the Arctic Ocean in the Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon. Tempted?
Barkley Marathon
If endurance challenges make their names on superlatives, then The Barkley Marathon takes the cake. The 160 km race has more climbs (52,900 feet of them!), more descents (52,900 feet of them!), and far, far fewer finishers than any of the rest: Since it began in 1986, only 7 out of about 650 have completed the course within the 60-hour cut-off. 7 out of 650!
Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon
The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is a gruelling run over seven days through the Kalahari Desert in Africa, covering an approximate distance of 250 km (155 miles). It’s self-sufficient, so you have to carry everything you need with you the whole way.

You will get too hot and too cold: average day temperatures reach in excess of 45 °C and then drop to below 5 °C at night. This presents a daunting challenge to the extreme athlete and determined adventurer alike, and will make it difficult to pack the right clothes to wear.
Furnace Creek 205
Imagine pedalling four mountain stages of the Tour de France—back to back, without stopping—and you have an idea of what the cyclists in the Furnace Creek 508 face. The race starts just north of L.A., in Santa Clarita, California, and passes through Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, with 36,000 feet of climb along the way.
And the longest (and possibly weirdest) of them all…the Self Transcendence 3100
Same view 100 times a day for 51 days...

The Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race is the world's longest certified footrace according to its organizers. This multiday race is hosted by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and takes place in Queens, New York in the USA from June-August every year. The course is 4,989 km long (!). Runners negotiate 5649 laps of one extended city block in Jamaica, Queens to 164th Place to Abigail Adams (84th) Avenue to 168th Street to Grand Central Parkway - a distance of 883 m.

The runners have 51 days in which to complete the distance - an average of 97.82 km every day. Imagine going round and round a city block 5649 times without stopping!
Get to it!

These endurance events might help put things in perspective next time you are sweating about your 30 minute cardio workout…So no more excuses – give it heaps and be thankful you’re not running in the desert for 60 hours.

Source: Body Transform

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