Fatton and Vallée
By Steve Matsuda
Athletes from 15 different countries assembled at the starting line in Death Valley for the 2007 Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon. At the finish line, five of the top seven male finishers and the second place female all list their nationality as other than USA.
Two of these talented international runners are quite familiar with each other. Sixth-place finisher Christian Fatton of Switzerland was followed in seventh by Albert Vallee, who led largest French field ever at Badwater. Fatton says that Vallee is usually better in shorter, faster races while he usually prevails in longer events.
Vallee is a Badwater veteran, having placed 4th overall in 2005. He was hoping to run a faster time than two years ago but thought it would be difficult to place as high as his last race here because of the strong field that had been assembled. Vallee led a field of six French runners in this event, all of who earned the much-coveted belt buckle for finishing the 135-mile race in under 48 hours.
Fatton was the only Swiss runner in the field this year. As a Badwater rookie, he’d studied Vallee’s time from 2005 and, because they are close in races, he planned to stay with Albert during much of the race. Fatton ended up going ahead rather early but was determined to run his own race.
Fatton said this was the toughest race he’s ever done because of the heat. He found the course hard, especially the last 30 miles. He said the last 13-mile ascent to the Mt. Whitney Portal was very hot and fatiguing. He found it very difficult to train for this race in Switzerland because it is so cold. Fatton says it’s the hardest race he’s ever done and was very happy with his placing. He thought his time for the race was perfect for him.