2019 Badwater 135 Pre-Race Press Release


To download the full Press Release, Media Kit, and Media Credential Application in PDF format, click here.

To download the July 2019 issue of BADWATER Magazine, click here.


Lone Pine, CA:  On July 15-17, 2019, AdventureCORPS will present its legendary BADWATER® 135 Ultramarathon. Now in its 42nd year, the world-renowned event pits up to 100 of the world’s toughest athletes against one another and the elements. In scorching temperatures and at altitudes as high as 8,360 feet (2548m), runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers from 21 countries and 30 American states will face off in a grueling 135-mile non-stop run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. Widely recognized as “the world’s toughest foot race,“ it is the most demanding and extreme running race on the planet.

The start line is at Badwater Basin, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m). The course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Panamint Springs, Darwin, Keeler, Alabama Hills, and Lone Pine.

The Badwater 135 is held under permits from Death Valley National Park, California Department of Transportation, Inyo National Forest, and Inyo County. Media and/or commercial photographers attending the event may be required to obtain permits from some of those same agencies.

AdventureCORPS – on behalf of all competitors and support crews – also gratefully acknowledge that these lands have been lived upon for at least 1000 years by native peoples, including the Timbisha Shoshone and the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone tribes who live on the race course today. We honor and share their deep reverence for these lands.

While runners began running the course in the 1970s, the race itself has been part of the fabric of life in Inyo County since 1987. A recent study indicated an annual economic impact of 1.2 million dollars, half of it spent in Death Valley National Park and surrounding gateway communities such as Lone Pine, CA. The race is supported by U.S. Congressman Col. Paul Cook (Ret.) of California’s 8th District, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, and a wide panorama of businesses and charities which are positively impacted.


A true “challenge of the champions,” the 2019 Badwater 135 features 44 Badwater veterans and 51 rookies: die hard “ultra-runners” of every speed and ability, as well as 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 one of the most international fields in race history, the athletes represent twenty-one countries: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and United States.

Thirty different American states and territories are represented: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

There are 26 women and 69 men. The youngest runners are Matthew Collins, 28, of Philadelphia, PA and Annie Weiss, 31, of Milwaukee, WI; both are rookies. The oldest female is Pamela Chapman-Markle, 63, of San Leon, Texas, a three-time finisher and the 60+ female age group record holder. The oldest male is Mark K. Olson, 72, of Covina, CA, a seven-time finisher. The overall average age is 47. Full roster details are available here:


Both men’s and women’s course records were broken in 2016: Pete Kostelnick, 28, of Lincoln, NE set the men’s record of 21:56:31, while Alyson Venti (now Allen), 34, of New York, NY, set the women’s record of 25:53:07. It is expected that the winners of the 2019 Badwater 135 will finish in near record time for both men’s and women’s divisions. The average finishing time is approximately 40 hours, while the overall time limit is 48 hours. For those who finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater 135 belt buckle, referred to as “the Holy Grail of Ultra Running.” There is no prize money.

The 2019 edition of the Holy Grail of Ultra Running exist. Detur Digniori = “Let it be given to those most worthy.“ (“XX” represents 20 years of AdventureCORPS organizing and Chris Kostman directing the race.)

The 2019 race field is particularly competitive. Veteran men’s contenders include 2015 and 2016 champion Pete Kostelnick, 31, of Brunswick, OH (who also broke the 36-year-old Trans-USA running record in 2016); 2014 champion Harvey Lewis, 43, of Cincinnati, OH (who placed 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017), 2008 men’s champion Zach Gingerich, 40, of Newberg, OR, and other notables such as multiple Badwater Salton Sea champion Ray Sanchez, 21, of Sacramento, CA, and two-time Badwater Cape Fear champion Eric Hunziker, 50, of Cincinnati, OH. Also of note is David Jones, 67, of Murfreesboro, TN, the 1997 Badwater 135 race champion, ten-time finisher, and 60+ age group record holder. There are 38 rookie men and 33 veteran men.

The women’s field is also stacked with talent, but includes no previous women’s Badwater 135 champions. The women’s field of 26 female runners includes 14 rookies and 12 veterans. Notable contenders include 2017 second place female Amy Costa and 2017 3rd place female Pamela Chapman-Markle. Competing as a rookie is 2018 Badwater Cape Fear champion Suzi Swinehart, 47, of Fort Wayne, IN. Also entering as a rookie is Patrycja Bereznowska, 43, of Poland, a 24-Hour World Champion and winner of the Spartathlon race in Greece. With a large number of women competing – includes those with podium finishes at some of the world’s toughest ultramarathons – it will be an intense battle.

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.

As detailed on the race roster, the race will begin in three waves on Monday evening, July 15:

• Wave 1 (800pm): 16 men and 14 women; 18 rookies and 12 veterans = 30 runners

• Wave 2 (930pm): 26 men and 7 women; 19 rookies and 14 veterans = 33 runners

• Wave 3 (1100pm): 30 men and 6 women; 20 rookies and 16 veterans = 36 runners

BAD-UltraCup.2The 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 April, and now concludes with the Badwater 135 in July. Those runners who complete all three events in the same calendar year are featured on the Badwater.com website and their virtues are extolled throughout the Internet and in future editions of BADWATER Magazine. In 2014, seven athletes completed the entire Badwater Ultra Cup, nine completed the 2015 Badwater Ultra Cup, sixteen completed the 2016 Badwater Ultra Cup, fifteen racers completed the 2017 Badwater Ultra Cup, eight completed the 2018 Badwater Ultra Cup, and fourteen racers have completed the first two Badwater races this year and will toe the line at this third and final Badwater race on July 15-17.

Now in its twentieth year producing this race, AdventureCORPS greatly appreciates the support of Pure Vitamin ClubCaring House Project Foundation, and ZZYXXZ, plus the local support of The Oasis at Death Valley, Stovepipe Wells Resort, Panamint Springs Resort, Dow Villa, Pizza Factory, the community of Lone Pine, CA, the people of Inyo County, and other generous companies and individuals. More info: www.badwater.com/about-us/sponsors/

Official Charities of the Badwater 135 include 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, Death Valley Natural History Association, 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. More info. Additionally, many of the race entrants are competing on behalf of a charity of their choice.

This year’s race celebrates the 42nd anniversary of Al Arnold’s original trek from Badwater Basin to Mt. Whitney in 1977. Arnold, an ultrarunning pioneer, human potential guru, and health club manager, competed in a solo effort: it was just Arnold and his support crew against the elements and the clock. It took him three efforts before he was successful, having first attempted the route in 1974 and then 1975. Four years later, Jay Birmingham also completed the course, in 1981. The official head-to-head race began ten years after Arnold’s pioneer trek, in 1987, and has been held annually since then without serious incident, fatality, or any citations issued by any branch of law enforcement.

We brought Al to the race in 2002, the 25th anniversary of his run, and he was treated like a rock star by everyone in attendance. Sadly, we lost our incredible friend Al Arnold when he passed away last year on September 6, 2017 at the age of 89.  He is sorely missed, but his spirit will live on with each year’s edition of the world’s toughest foot race.

Al Arnold at the start line of the 2002 Badwater Ultramarathon.

For more info about Al Arnold and also the original race click these links:

1977 Al Arnold: http://www.badwater.com/blog/category/al-arnolds-insights/

1987 Race: http://www.badwater.com/blog/1987-the-year-badwater-became-a-race/


A stock image gallery – for bona fide media use only – may be accessed at the following link, with Photographer Name / Badwater.com attribution required: www.flickr.com/photos/chriskostman/sets/72157654693333871

For the duration of the 2019 race, fans can follow the race through a “live” webcast at http://www.badwater.com/2019-badwater-135-webcast/


Follow the 2019 webcast at this link.

Follow the 2019 time splits and results at this link.

Follow the race on Twitter @Badwater: http://twitter.com/badwater

Official Hashtag across all social media: #Badwater135

Follow the race staff’s live photostream on Instagram @BadwaterHQ:


Follow the race director’s live photostream on Instagram @ChrisKostman:


Follow the race staff’s photostream archive on Flickr:


Follow the race director’s photostream archive on Flickr:


Join the Facebook conversation:


Download the July 2019 issue of BADWATER Magazine at this link.

Download the full 2019 press kit at http://www.badwater.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Press-Kit.pdf


Oak Park, CA-based AdventureCORPS®, Inc. is an athlete-run firm producing and promoting ultra-endurance sports events and the world’s toughest brand, BADWATER®. Adventure is our way of life. AdventureCORPS’ world-class events for athlete-adventurers include epic races such as the Badwater® 135, BADWATER® Salton Sea, and BADWATER® Cape Fear, and other events. Our products include the Badwater® line of apparel, skin care products, gear, and services. Founded in 1984 by Chris Kostman, this group effort is dedicated to exploring the inner and outer universes, seeking adventure, energy, and insight both in daily life and “out there.” More info is available at  www.adventurecorps.com and www.badwater.com.

Badwater® is a federally registered trademark owned by AdventureCORPS, Inc.


Chris Kostman
Chief Adventure Officer and Race Director
AdventureCORPS, Inc. 638 Lindero Canyon Road, #311
Oak Park, CA 91377 USA