Latest News

2015 Badwater Cape Fear Webcast

Helpful Links: Race Results | Race Magazine | Race home

Official Charity: Bald Head Island Conservancy Please Join / Donate!

BHIC Logo-Plantin




Image Galleries on Flickr

Pre–Race Activities: March 17-20, 2015 | Photos by Chris Kostman

Badwater Cape Fear Racer Mugshots | Photos by Chris Kostman, March 20, 2015
Badwater Cape Fear: the first 10 miles on Bald Head Island: | Photos by Chris Kostman and Monica Hennessy
Badwater Cape Fear: Runners round Cape Fear itself | Photos by Monica Hennessy and Chris Kostman

Badwater Cape Fear Finish Line | Photos by Chris Kostman, March 21, 2015

Special thanks, Event Volunteers!

Finish Line Team: Poul Lindegaard, Laurie Kostman, Monica Hennessy, Louise Lindegaard, Ralph Griggers, Kim Winstead, José Lopez, Jaime McDonald, and Margaret McDonald

Bald Head Island Conservancy (CP1): Linda Quirk, Randy Quirk, and Jason Bennett

Mid-Beach: Marybeth Ray, George Ray, Rebecca Ann Bruton, Khwan Bolton, Beth Price, and Gloria Agnew

Fort Fisher: Scott Kollins, Keith Weitz, Eleanor Erickson, Kristen Weitz, Owen Weitz

Start Line: John Alexander, Scott Kollins, and Keith Weitz

Flagpole, and Broom Wagon for first 10.5 Miles: Kevin Thomas

Directions: Heather Caveny, Kim Winstead, Ralph Griggers, and others

Timing: Trasie Phan and Carroll Pope

Media: Trasie Phan of Ultra Racing Network, Alix Shutello of Endurance Racing Magazine, Robert Lee of BeamCatchers, Chris Kostman of RokkorPro

Chris Kostman: Race Director, Photography, Webcast, Finish Line

Thank You!

This event is held under permits from the Village of Bald head Island and Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, and the incredible support of Bald Head Island Conservancy. We thank them, and all our North Carolina friends, for their support!


More Image Galleries on Flickr


Badwater Cerro Gordo


We are excited to announce that we are making progress on the BADWATER® Cerro Gordo concept and race. We’ve had a map created and a simple race logo.

The Badwater Cerro Gordo 102-mile footrace will be based upon the Badwater 135 route used in 2014, but excluding the 33-mile out-and-back section between Keeler and Darwin. It will cover 102 miles (166km) non-stop from Lone Pine, CA to the summit of Horseshoe Meadow (elev. 10,000 feet / 3048m), then across the Owens Valley to a 5,500 foot dirt road ascent to the ghost town of Cerro Gordo, and then, after passing back through Lone Pine, a final dramatic ascent to the highest paved point on Mt. Whitney, CA. The start line is at Lone Pine, CA, and the race finishes at Mt. Whitney Portal at 8,360’ (2530m). The Badwater Cerro Gordo course covers three mountain pass ascents for a total of over 17,000’ (5,800m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 12,700’ (4450m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States.

It will be a terrific winter counterpoint to the Badwater 135!

The first edition will be held in Winter 2015 / 2016 or 2016 / 2017. Details forthcoming on the event webpage here on the site.


Badwater 135 Course Description

Badwater Basin, Death Valley (- 85m / 280ft)
The race begins here adjacent to a pool of saltwater located at the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere.

Furnace Creek Ranch (-170′), Mile 17.5 (Time Station #1)
The first oasis in our journey. A small general store, restaurant, hotel, camping, and ice are available, plus a gas station just 2/10 of a mile up the road next to the National Park Service Visitors Center. Stock up here!

Stovepipe Wells (Sea Level), Mile 42.2 (Time Station #2)
A small general store, gas station, restaurant and motel. Location of the race’s Medical HQ for most of the first 15 hours of the race. Stock up here!

Towne Pass (4956’), Mile 58.7
17-mile long ascent with 5000′ of elevation gain, then a 10-mile long descent with 3000′ feet of elevation loss into the Panamint Valley. It’s a steep and narrow road with limited opportunities to park. Support vehicles, crews, and runners must be cautious and extra aware of the traffic.

Panamint Springs Resort (2000′), Mile 72.7 (Time Station #3)
Gas station / mini-mart, plus restaurant and motel. Stock up here! Also, we rent out “The Cottage” as a way station for any and all race entrants and crews to use during the race: Bring your own towel, soap, and shampoo and make a big effort to keep the room and bathroom tidy. After passing Panamint Springs, a long, steep climb follows on a steep and narrow road with limited opportunities to park. Support vehicles, crews, and runners must be cautious and extra aware of the traffic, and ONLY park in the eight designated parking zones between Panamint Springs Resort and unmarked “Panamint Pass” at mile 84.9.

Father Crowley’s Turnout (4000′), Mile 80.65
The bathrooms and parking lot that designate this view point are not the top of this ascent, though you may hope so. Beyond here, the road continues to rise to 5000’ over rolling hills, then eventually descends into the Owen’s Valley.

Darwin Turn-Off (5050′), Mile 90.6 (Time Station #4)
Just a few miles to the south of our route is the small inhabited ghost town of Darwin, the website for which touts “NO broadcast TV; NO AM/FM radio, NO cell signal; NO stores; NO restaurants.” This is where the race usually starts to get serious for all entrants. Look for Mile Marker 28 about nine miles ahead to indicate your 100-mile mark!

Keeler (3610′), Mile 108.1
This is a small mining town with no facilities which abuts the Owens Dry Lake Bed to the left of the highway. Amazing views of Mt. Whitney and the Sierra Nevada abound. A dirt road to the right ascends to Cerro Gordo, an authentic ghost town which was featured in the 2014 Badwater 135 and will be featured again in the upcoming “Badwater® Cerro Gordo” 102-mile Ultramarathon.

Lone Pine (3610′), Mile 122.7 (Time Station #5)
Lone Pine offers the weary runner and crew all the amenities of a real town: fast food, pizza, restaurants, motels, gas stations, grocery stores, and more, not to mention our Race Headquarters at the Dow Villa. Restock here for the climb to Whitney Portal. Turn left onto the Whitney Portal Road to begin the final leg, the longest and steepest climb of the race (13 miles with 5000 feet of elevation gain). After the turn from Hwy 395, it’s 8.4 miles to Time Station #6, located at the start of the switchbacks. Temperatures will steadily decrease during the ascent (though depending on time of day). Be prepared with extra layers of clothing and rain gear the final few miles; at night it can approach freezing temperature. Be sure your support vehicle is always parked completely off of the road and that you do not block traffic, even for a moment.

Whitney Portal Road Switchbacks, (6890’), Mile 131.1 (Time Station #6)
Just before you enter the infamous “switchbacks” section of the Whitney Portal Road climb to the finish, there is a time station (checkpoint) on the right in the large pullout. From here it’s “just” a four-mile sprint to the finish line (one a road that gets increasingly steeper.)

Mt. Whitney Trailhead, (8360’), Mile 135
Congratulations! You have finished the world’s toughest foot race! A small diner/shop are open during daylight hours. There is also a stocked fishing pond and a campground (because, of course, after running 135 miles, you really want to go fishing and camping!).

For all the Badwater 135 race route details, click here.

Course Profile Breakdown

Flat Miles:

Badwater to Stovepipe Wells 41 miles
Panamint floor 2 miles
Darwin flats 4 miles
Owens Valley to Lone Pine 22 miles
69 miles total

Uphill Miles:

Stovepipe Wells to Townes 18 miles + 5,000 ft.
Panamint grade (west) 15 miles + 3,400 ft.
Lone Pine to Whitney Portal 13 miles + 4,600 ft.
46 miles total +14,600 ft. total

Downhill Miles:

Townes to Panamint Valley 8 miles – 3,400 ft.
Darwin to Owens Valley 12 miles – 1,300 ft.
20 miles total – 6,100 ft. total

Below are real, actual time splits from 2015 and 2016 racers, which are far more useful than average speed time splits, which vary widely in reality due to the severe changes of topography along the course, not to mention the heat, or cold, wind, and more.
Note there is some range: some runners “fall behind” or “make up time” in various stretches depending on how they feel, eat, drink, and many other factors. This is why we included real-time splits for several different runners in the 34-hour, 40-hour, 44-hour, and 46-hour range. Everything is in elapsed time.
Note the time limits for point of reference:
The time limit at Panamint Springs (72 miles) is 24 hours.
The time limit at Darwin (90 miles)  is 33 hours.
The time limit at Lone Pine (122) is 42 hours.
For an Excel spreadsheet (.xlsx) version of this data, click here.

Pace Chart

hours mph min/mile
24 5.62 10:40
25 5.40 11:07
26 5.19 11:33
26 5.14 11:41
27 5.00 12:00
28 4.82 12:26
29 4.65 12:53
29 4.63 12:58
30 4.50 13:20
31 4.35 13:46
32 4.21 14:13
33 4.09 14:40
34 3.97 15:07
35 3.85 15:33
36 3.75 16:00
36 3.71 16:08
37 3.64 16:26
37 3.64 16:27
38 3.55 16:53
39 3.46 17:20
40 3.37 17:48
41 3.29  18:14
42 3.21  18:41
43 3.14  19:06
44 3.07  19:32
45 3.00  20:00
46 2.93  20:28
47 2.87  20:54
48 2.81  21:21


2014 Badwater 135 Route

Race Route: 2014 Edition

Course Profile

Garmin GPS Map

Behold the new and improved 2014 edition of the Badwater 135, the world’s toughest foot race!

Essential Race Route for 2014
Start in Lone Pine and run up Tuttle Creek
Run to the top of Horseshoe Meadow (23 miles uphill with 6500 feet of elevation gain)
Run back down to Lone Pine
Run southeast to Keeler on Hwy 136
Run up Yellow Grade Road to Cerro Gordo (7.5 miles uphill with 5500 feet of elevation gain)
Run back down Yellow Grade Road to Hwy 136
Run southeast on Hwy 136 / hwy 190 to the Darwin Turn-Off.
Turn around and run Hwy 190 / Hwy 136 back to Lone Pine
Finish by running from Lone Pine to Whitney Portal (13 miles uphill with 5000 feet of elevation gain)

Compared to the traditional route, the 2014 version has over 17,000’ (5,200m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 12,700’ (3900m) of cumulative descent, while the traditional Death Valley-based route has 13,000’ (3962m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 4,700’ (1433m) of cumulative descent. Though the 2014 edition does not start in Badwater and traverse Death Valley and Panamint Valley, the actual topography of the new route is significantly more challenging and very much worthy of the moniker, “world’s toughest foot race.”


Route Landmarks

2014 Badwater 135 Ultramarathon Route Landmarks

Created with GPS measurement: June 2014.

Distance Landmark Elevation
NOTE: TL = Traffic Light; SS = Stop Sign; T-Int = T-Intersection
0.0 Start west on Whitney Portal Road from Brewery Street 3740′
0.4 Left on Tuttle Creek Road             NO SUPPORT VEHICLES NEXT 3.1 MILES 3780′
0.6 Pass Portagee Joe Campground on right (toilet 50 yards west of road) 3790′
1.55 Cross LA Aqueduct 3800′
3.8 Pass Hopalong Cassidy House on Right 4500′
4.1 Pass Thundercloud Lane on Left VEHICLE SUPORT BEGINS 4580′
5.8 Right on Lubken Canyon Rd. (SS, T-Int) 4700′
6.2 Left on Horseshoe Meadows Rd. (SS, T-Int) 4800′
Dangerous, narrow area! No slow driving or stopping on road!
9.2 DeLaCour Ranch (Switchback #1 starts)  TOILET 5470′
10.6 Enter Inyo National Forest 6000
11.65 Switchback #2 starts 6400′
13.3 Switchback #3 starts 7000′
14.8 Switchback #4 starts 7600′
15.9 Switchback #5 starts; watch for rocks on road 8000′
16.6 Cell Service ends for Verizon; AT&T continues to work for 1.4 miles
16.7 Switchback #6 starts 8400′
16.9 Switchback #7 starts 8500′
18.0 Walt’s Point (AT&T cell service ends) 9000′
19.0 Summit, followed by short downhill 9300′
19.9 Low Point; resume climbing 9050′
21.6 “Wood Gathering Prohibited” / Gate 9600′
21.7 Stay left / Straight (Old Pack Station location) 9700′
21.9 Stay left / Straight towards Cottonwood Pass 9720′
22.1 Left into Day Use area: Time Station #1     (6135′ cumulative ascent) 9730′
22.2 Toilet on short loop road 9730′
22.3 Right to return down/east on Horseshoe Meadows Rd. (SS, T-Int) 9730′
24.4 Low Point; begin 250′ ascent 9050′
25.25 Summit; begin long descent 9300′
26.4 Walt’s Point (AT&T cell service resumes) 9000′
27.4 Switchback #7 starts 8500′
27.8 Switchback #6 starts 8400′
27.9 Verizon cell service resumes
28.4 Switchback #5 starts 8000′
29.4 Switchback #4 starts 7600′
30.9 Switchback #3 starts 7000′
32.6 Switchback #2 starts 6400′
35.0 DeLaCour Ranch (Switchback #1)  TOILET 5470′
38.4 Right on Lubken Canyon Rd. 4800′
38.5 Left on Tuttle Creek Road 4700′
40.0 Cross Sunset Drive (Crew vehicles go west to meet runners at Mile 43.9) 4580′
40.2 Pass Thundercloud Lane on Right         NO SUPPORT VEHICLES NEXT 3.1 MILES 4580′
42.8 Cross LA Aqueduct 3800′
43.8 Pass Portagee Joe Campground on left (toilet 50 yards west of road) 3790′
43.9 Right on Whitney Portal Rd. (SS, T-Int)             VEHICLE SUPPORT RESUMES 3780′
44.4 Right on Hwy 395 (TL) 3740′
44.5 Pass Dow Villa on Left: Time Station #2 3740′
45.9 Pass last gas and food: Chevron / Lee’s Frontier Deli on right 3700′
46.2 Left on SR 136 / SR 190 3690′
48.8 Cross Owens River 3610′
49.6 Left onto Dolomite Loop 3600′
54.2 Left onto Hwy 136 (SS, T-Int)        WATCH FOR SOFT SHOULDERS 3440′
59.1 Pass Cerro Gordo Rd. on right in Keeler 3680′
59.4 Left on Cerro Gordo Rd: Time Station #3  TOILET NO SUPPORT VEHICLES NEXT 15.4 MILES 3680′
64.0 False Summit “Geology Flats” (Water/Ice)   (8650′ cumulative ascent) 5750′
65.0 Enter Joshua Tree forest 6200′
65.8 “No Hunting” sign on wooden mining equipment on left 6930′
67.1 American Hotel in Cerro Gordo: Time Station #4 TOILET (11,000′ cumulative ascent) 8000′
70.2 False Summit “Geology Flats” (Water/Ice) 5750′
74.8 Left onto Hwy 136 (SS, T-Int): Time Station #5    VEHICLE SUPPORT RESUMES 3670′
79.3 Straight onto Hwy 190  (No Cell Service until Mile 102) 3830′
80.6 4000′ Elevation Sign on left 4000′
82.6 Gunsight Pass 4340′
85.9 Gravesite / Large Cross on left 4540′
90.7 Mile Marker 36.0 on right 5000′
91.25 Large pull-out on right: Time Station #6 (0.9 mile before Darwin turn-off) 5150′
96.5 Gravesite / Large Cross on right 4540′
99.8 Gunsight Pass 4340′
100.7 “100 MILES” painted on road on left side 4160′
101.9 4000′ Elevation Sign on right 4000′
103.1 Straight onto Hwy 136 at Hwy 190 junction (Cell service resumes) 3830′
107.7 Pass Cerro Gordo Road on rightinI Keeler (former TS #3/5) 3670′
113.0 Pass Dolomite Loop on right 3440′
117.2 Pass Dolomite Loop on right again 3600′
118.0 Cross Owens River 3610′
120.7 Right on Hwy 395 (SS, T-Int) 3690′
122.4 Pass Dow Villa on right: Time Station #7 3740′
122.5 Left on Portal Road (TL) 3740′
No slow driving or stopping on road!
125.6 Pass Horseshoe Meadow Rd. on left 4520′
126.8 Pass Cuffe Ranch on right 5100′
128.1 Pass Olivas Ranch Rd. on left 5300′
129.0 Pass Lone Pine Campground on left 5700′
Dangerous, narrow area! No slow driving or stopping on road!
130.8 Large pullout on right before switchbacks section: Time Station #8 6890′
131.8 “The Switchback” 7215′
132.4 Vista Point on left 7400′
133.4 Whitney Portal Recreation Area sign 7700′
133.7 Family Campsites on left 8100′
134.3 Overflow Parking Lot on left 8200′
134.4 Finish Line 100 yards beyond Mount Whitney Trail sign (17,000′ cumulative ascent) 8360′
Copyright ©AdventureCORPS, Inc.

Official distance is 135.0 miles. Remember all car odometers have error. Distances above are accurate in a relative sense, but you may find variation in the overall distance, as we did when creating the above route sheet.


>  Description of the major ascents by 2014 entrant Josh Spector

> Mile by Mile Images of the Horseshoe Meadows ascent from Mile 0 to Mile 23 by Ben Jones

>  More Images of the Horseshoe Meadows ascent from Mile 0 to Mile 23 by Ben Jones 

>  Images of the Cerro Gordo ascent / descent from Mile 60 to Mile 75 by Ben Jones.
While 2014 race entrant Josh Spector and his crew trained on that stretch of the route.


Read about Cerro Gordo, the Ghost Town.
Ghost Town Explorers   Wikipedia   Ghost Towns   Cerro Gordo


Lone Pine Map and Services Guide: a very handy reference tool for Badwater runners and crews
Lone Pine Guide [PDF]

 Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce 


> Lone Pine weather

> Lone Pine historical weather trend data

> Information about the history (1977-2013) race route



2014 Badwater Salton Sea Webcast

Download the May 2014 issue of BADWATER Magazine, featuring Badwater Salton Sea!

BADWATER® Immersion Training Camp / Workshop / Retreat, held in Borrego Springs, CA, immediately prior to BADWATER® Salton Sea


Photos by Chris Kostman, Friday – Sunday, May 2-4, 2014

Badwater® Salton Sea Runner and Support Crew Mugshots


Photos by Marco Apostol, Sunday, May 4, 2014


Badwater® Salton Sea Race Day: Start Line to Mile 26, through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Instagram Pix)


Photos by Chris Kostman, Monday, May 5, 2014

Badwater® Salton Sea Race Day: Mile 7 – Mile 27, through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


Photos by Chris Kostman, Monday, May 5, 2014

Badwater® Salton Sea Pre-Race Activity: Start Line Tour, Runner Check-In, and more Mugshots of Runners and Support Crews


Photos by Chris Kostman, Monday, May 4, 2014


Badwater® Salton Sea Race Day: Mile 31, approaching Borrego Springs


Photos by Marco Apostol, Monday, May 5, 2014

Badwater® Salton Sea Race Day: Start Line to Mile 7, through Salton City


Photos by Chris Kostman, Monday, May 5, 2014


Badwater® Salton Sea Race Day: Borrego Springs Mile 35 to Ranchita Mile 50


Photos by Chris Kostman, Monday, May 5, 2014

Badwater® Salton Sea Race Day: Mile 5, Teams leave the Salton sea behind


Photos by Marco Apostol, Monday, May 5, 2014


Badwater® Salton Sea Race Day: Finish Line


Photos by Trasie Phan and Chris Kostman, Monday, May 5-6, 2014


Special thanks to the Race Staff!

Marco Apostol, Medical Team

Jimmy Dean Freeman, Roving Official, Trail Sweep, Finish Line

Lori Hoechlin, Post-Race Brunch

Tim Kjenstad, Roving Official, Time Station 1 (Mile 14.4), and TS 5 (Ranchita)

Chris Kostman, Race Director, Roving Official, Photography, Webcast, Finish

Laurie Kostman, Post-Race Brunch


Anna Leeg, Webcast Design

Eric Meech, Medical Team

Don Meyer, Roving Official, Time Station 2 (Borrego Springs) and Finish

Dave and Margaret Nelson, Roving Officials and Photographers

Trasie Phan, RD’s assistant

George Vargas, Roving Official, Time Station 3 (Lower Trailhead), Finish

Bradley Zlotnick, Medical Team

2013 Badwater Salton Sea Webcast

Blog Reports, Podcasts, Video from 2013 Badwater Salton Sea

Photographer David Nelson’s incredible race photos

Ashley Walsh of Team AAAsugar and

One-Hour Podcast with Jimmy Dean Freeman of Team Coyote and Ashley Walsh of Team AAAsugar

Team Ultra University’s Remarkable Video Compilation

Jimmy Dean Freeman of Team Coyote

Elizabeth Kocek of Team ULTRA University

Davd Krupski of Team Miami Thrice

Molly Sheridan of Team FOMO

John Vigil of Team FOMO Part One | Part Two

Special thanks to the Race Staff!

Michael Angelos, Roving Official, Time Station 3 (Lower Trailhead), Finish

Marco Apostol, Medical Team

Jeff Bell, Roving Official, Time Station 3 (Lower Trailhead), Finish

Tim Kjenstad, Roving Official, Time Station 1 (Mile 14.4), and TS 5 (Ranchita)

Chris Kostman, Race Director, Roving Official, Photography, Webcast, Finish

Laurie Kostman, Roving Official, Finish Line, and Post-Race Brunch

Anna Leeg, Webcast Design

Eric Meech, Medical Team

Don Meyer, Roving Official, Time Station 2 (Borrego Springs) and Finish

Dave and Margaret Nelson, Roving Officials and Photographers

Bradley Zlotnick, Medical Team


Hall of Fame: Lisa Smith-Batchen

In 2012, Lisa Smith-Batchen was inducted into the Badwater Hall of Fame. Her plaque reads:

Lisa Smith-Batchen

is proudly inducted into the Badwater Hall of Fame

in recognition of her seventeen years of devotion

to the world’s toughest foot race

as competitor, champion, and coach

July 2012

Lisa’s Badwater 135 history | An article about Lisa’s induction | Lisa’s Site

Lisa Smith-Batch: A 17-Year Journey at Badwater

Lisa Smith has been synonymous with the Badwater Ultramarathon since the mid-90s when she competing at the front of the race and appearing on magazine covers. As an athlete, she has blazed trails across the globe, winning races like Marathon des Sables, and inspiring others to chase their own dreams. She set the precedent for competing with the top men, paving the way for later standouts like Pam Reed and Jamie Donaldson.

Lisa’s name pops up regularly in the essay section of the race application as the person who inspired the applicant to run, or to compete in Badwater. Coaching athletes is another way Lisa touches athletes across the globe and her students compete every year at Badwater. Likewise for her work as a race promoter; Lisa knows what the athletes need and want in a classic race, and she delivers that with aplomb through Dream Chaser Events, the company she runs with her husband Jay Batchen. Naturally, they met through running and they ran the 2000 Badwater together as newlyweds.

Lisa’s reach extends even further, far beyond sport, as she’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for AIDS Orphans Rising, an effort recognized in person by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

As an athlete, coach, event promoter, philanthropist, and inspiration, Lisa is an ideal role model and ambassador for the Badwater Ultramarathon. She’s been a shining light at our race for 17 years, and though she has retired from competitive ultrarunning, she will no doubt be a welcome asset to the race for many years to come.

Q&A with Lisa

Why Badwater: The challenge, the people; the desert is where I feel most at home. I love the course and I love Ben and Denise Jones who have inspired me since my first day in Death Valley in 1995. Also, AdventureCORPS always has the most amazing volunteers. As a race director myself, I know all the time, effort and dedication that goes into putting on a successful event. They are very much appreciated!

Funniest moments? Laughing so hard with my crew until I threw up. Sand storms where you are being thrown backwards and all you can do is laugh. Many moments when you would rather cry but choose to laugh: getting a flat tire, hearing people use all kinds of swear words when in there every day life they never swear.

Coaching: I have coached so many people for Badwater: I am coaching four for this year’s race and I have coached every year. My coaching started years ago with coaching high school, then college, and it grew and grew as I learned and learned and learned: Not just through experience but through education. I have coached many of the top runners at Badwater, even Marshall Ulrich and Ray Zahab! I love to coach and even more so now that I have retired from racing!

Badwater Life Lessons: Badwater was my first ultra and my last. I went from a marathon to 135 miles. I fell in love with endurance and distance running. Badwater taught me that it is not really about the race, yet a journey that will stay with you for the rest of your life. I have learned to trust other people who are there to help you, I have learned that most of the time you can work through about anything. I have learned that a “DNF” does not mean you did not finish, it means “MTRC”: Made The Right Choice and learn to race another day. There are reasons people don’t finish a race. We all start a race with the intention and desire to finish. Something goes wrong along the way and you must make a choice that is right for you! Marshall Ulrich got me into my first Badwater and he is still one of my best friends, more like a brother to me. The relationships and bonding with people that really do care about you will stay in your life forever.

Lisa’s Badwater History

1995: 2nd female and 4th overall in 41:24:31.

1997: 1st female and 3rd overall in 37:01, a new women’s course record.

1998: 1st female and 4th overall in 37:33.

1999: Featured in the film, “Running on the Sun.” Finished unofficially in 48:24 after receiving IV fluids.

2000: 3rd female and tied for 17th overall with her husband Jay in 43:23:56.

2001: Crew for Marshall Ulrich during his Death Valley Quadruple Crossing (“I ran over 350 miles with him.”)

2002, age 41: 4th female and 10th overall in 40:28:22.

2003, age 52: 11th female and 33rd overall in 52:11:39.

2006, age 45: 13th female and 55th overall in 49:23:49. Ran a Badwater Double.

2007, age 46: 8th female and 43rd overall in 41:54:17.

2008, age 47: 20th female and 67th overall in 47:17:30. (“This was the year I ran from Las Vegas to the race start. I had the 2nd fastest time up the Portal Road, the last 13 miles, of any male or female who only did the race. I then ran up Mt. Whitney for a total of 306 miles.”)

2011, age 50: Hoping for her 10th finish, Lisa DNF’d. She announced prior to the 2011 race that it would be her last Badwater, regardless of the result that year. (“Yes and after five days in the hospital for almost killing myself, I realized that I have done 10 Badwater races and it is OK for myself to give myself credit for my DNF in 1999, the year I got an IV because I did go on to finish!”)

4-PreRace-Meetings 38

Books About the Badwater Ultramarathon

or authored by Badwater veterans, and featuring Badwater, listed alphabetically by author

The Death Valley 300

by Richard Benyo, published August 1991

In 1989, two runners—Tom Crawford and Richard Benyo—set off to become the first people to run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney and back…in mid-summer. They completed this first double crossing, which became known as the “Death Valley 300.”

The Athlete’s Way

by Christopher Bergland, published June 2008

The Athlete’s Way presents a practical, motivational fitness program that incorporates brain science, positive psychology and behaviorism to transform lives from the inside out. It is the antidote to the imbalances created by living a sedentary, inactive existence. Badwater Ultramarathon veteran Christopher Bergland has created a program that uses neurobiology and behavioral models to help improve life through exercise.

The Longest Hill

by Jay Birmingham, published August 1983

Jay Birmingham recounts his 1981 Death Valley crossing, the second ever successful run from Badwater to Mt. Whitney.

FINANCIAL FITNESS: The Journey From Wall Street To Badwater 135

by William Corley, published 2017

This book details Corley’s path from being a flat broke 20-year-old kid in Tennessee to making it on Wall Street and becoming a millionaire in his late 30s. He tells the story of his transformation from being a couch potato in his early 40s to running his first 5km event and subsequently qualifying for the Boston Marathon, competing in the New York Ironman Triathlon, and, a decade later, running the Badwater 135.

Death Valley Ultras: The Complete Crewing Guide

by Thesera Daus-Weber and Denise Jones, published May 2006

Written by two runners with years of experience in the Valley, this guide is a collection of everything runners and their crew need to know to crew a successful Death Valley ultra compiled into one well-organized, easy to use reference.

The Clock Keeps Ticking

by Sharon Gayter, published November 2010

Sharon Gayter is one of the world’s top ultra runners. She could barely stagger half a mile before collapsing breathless and exhausted after a friend gave her a first pair of running shoes. She has now run 837 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in a blistering 12 days and 16 hours and holds the Commonwealth gold medal for running 140 miles in 24 hours. She has run incredible distances all over the world. Sharon Gayter was driven to run. Running gave her freedom, to discover who she was and to make her own life on her own terms with spectacular success. En route to international acclaim she found the perfect husband. An amazing, inspirational story for runners and non-runners alike.

To the Edge

by Kirk Johnson, published July 2002

When his older brother commits suicide, Kirk starts running—running to escape, running to understand, running straight into the hell of Badwater, the ultimate test of endurance equal to five consecutive marathons. From the inferno of Death Valley to the freezing summit of Mt. Whitney, alongside a group of dreamers, fanatics, and virtual running machines, Kirk will stare down his limitations and his fears on a journey inward-a journey that just might offer the redemption of his deepest and most personal loss. Johnson is an editor at the New York Times who completed the 1999 Badwater Ultramarathon and was featured in “Running on the Sun,” the feature-length film about that year’s race.

Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss

by Dean Karnazes, Published March 2011

From the hilarious to the profound, the linked stories in Run! create an unforgettable tableau, offering a glimpse into the mind-set and motivation of an extreme athlete. Karnazes addresses the pain, perseverance, and emotional state as he pushes the edges of human achievement. The tales of the friendships he’s cultivated on his many adventures around the world warm the heart and are sure to captivate and inspire.

Ultramarathon Man

by Dean Karnazes, Published March 2005

Dean Karnazes is an ultramarathoner, a member of an elite group of athletes who run in 50- and 100-mile races and beyond. In Ultramarathon Man, he recounts some of the biggest races of his life and explains the passion that leads him to push his body to its limits. Although this book was released in early 2005, the year after Dean won the Badwater Ultramarathon, the chapter about Badwater recounts his DNF experience in the 1995 race.

Born to Run

by Christopher McDougall, published May 2009

Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, the author sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets; in the process showing us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

PLEASE NOTE: The author did not attend the Badwater Ultramarathon and essentially everything he wrote about the race is either extreme exaggeration, unsubstantiated hearsay, ancient and irrelevant history, or just plain nonsense. His “quotes” from the race director were not from an actual interview; they were copied from the official race report.

Burst This!

by Frank McKinney, published February 2009

Badwater Ultramarathon veteran and “real estate artist” Frank McKinney helps you wash away the worry and anxiety that financial theorists and misguided media constantly dump into the real estate marketplace. During his 25-year career, Frank has thrived through all economic conditions by taking a contrarian approach and making his own markets.

Dead Fred, Flying Lunchboxes, and the Good Luck Circle

by Frank McKinney, published February 2009

Badwater Ultramarathon veteran Frank McKinney boldly enters young reader fiction in this fantasy novel. The story was inspired by the more than 1,250 walks to school McKinney has shared with his daughter and her friends in real life. Come along with Ppeekk and her friends into the fantastical world of Dead Fred, Flying Lunchboxes, and the Good Luck Circle.

The Tap

by Frank McKinney, published January 2009

Renowned “real estate artist” and Badwater Ultramarathon veteran Frank McKinney reveals the most important spiritual principle behind his astronomical success. He explains how God has tapped him (and taps everyone) many times in life, answering prayers and presenting life-changing opportunities. Learn how to listen and respond to your own “Tap Moments.”

The Extra Mile

by Pam Reed, published September 2007

In The Extra Mile we watch Badwater Ultramarathon veteran Pam Reed seek balance in her life as a wife, mother, athlete, and entrepreneur. With astonishing candor she tells of her 15-year-long battle with anorexia. And she helps us to understand her passion for ultrarunning—to discover how far the human body can be pushed.

Into The Furnace: How a 135 mile run across Death Valley set my soul on fire

by Cory Reese, published 2018

When life turns up the heat, you have two choices. You can bend and break, or you can step boldly into the furnace and let your soul catch fire. Into The Furnace explores the inner workings of bravery, hope, and passion. These themes are framed against the backdrop of the Badwater Ultramarathon – a 135 mile race across the hottest place on the planet, Death Valley. Cory Reese has walked into the furnace. He has faced adversity, both in running and in life. His book captures the essence of what it means to suffer, what it means to persevere, and ultimately, what it means to create a life of clarity and purpose..

Running Hot

by Lisa Tamati, published May 2010

The Badwater Ultramarathon through California’s Death Valley is one of the world’s toughest races. Lisa Tamati was the first New Zealand woman to compete in the race alongside such legends of the sport as Dean Karnazes and David Goggins. But Lisa’s story is so much more than that one race.

Running on Empty

by Marshall Ulrich, published April 2011

In the fall of 2008, Badwater veteran Marshall Ulrich clocked the third fastest transcontinental crossing to date and set new records in multiple divisions. In Running on Empty, he shares the gritty backstory. Ulrich also reaches back nearly 30 years to when the death of the woman he loved drove him to begin running—and his dawning realization that he felt truly alive only when pushed to the limits.

Der Wüstenläufer

by Jens Vieler and Klaus Dahlbeck, published 2015

This is the the only book/ e-book in German language about Badwater 135. Vieler is a two-time Badwater 135 finisher in 2011 and 2017.

Jens Vieler has a dream: to start at the legendary Badwater Ultramarathon. The race takes 217 kilometers through one of the hottest parts of the world and at the same time from the lowest point in the USA up to the highest mountain in continental North America. To fulfill the qualification standard alone, he has to perform crazy endurance achievements. When he is finally able to start as one of 100 chosen ones, an adventure begins that demands more than just a runner.

Badwater, Mission Accomplished

Have you ever sat down and set yourself a really big goal, kind of a tongue in cheek one, not really thinking that it would ever eventuate, or come to pass. You might have thought that it was just a little too far out there and not realistically achievable.

Badwater was exactly that, not really an obtainable one as far as I thought. But soon after completing the Brazil Ultra marathon in January 2009, it started becoming a little more tangible.

Missing out on completing Brazil the second time in January 2010, with a dnf at 90km, I thought I’d lost the opportunity. I really needed that result in terms of my CV application for Badwater. Back in New Zealand, my coach, Jon Ackland—Performance Lab, hurriedly pulled some strings and found an event that I could tag onto and a 200km distance run eventuated out of that, which we could record online—a Badwater requirement for all races submitted on CV.

Waitangi weekend rolled around in Auckland, about 10 days from getting back from Brazil empty handed, and I completed 200km’s on the waterfront, running between Mechanic’s Bay and St Helliers Bay in 40 hours, subduing a little the frustration I had felt from the Brazil dnf.

The CV was dually filled out and submitted and I waited with baited breath, not expecting a positive response but knowing I’d given it my best shot.

When the, “yes you are in” came back in March 2010, I couldn’t believe it. However, after the shock of actually getting into what is self promoted as the toughest foot race in the world, the planning and training had to start in earnest for a July 12th D Day. I would be running with some of the world’s elite runners of Ultra distance and it would be a privilege I certainly would not be taking lightly.

Training went well. We mixed it up with flat long stuff, to simulate the salt lake flats of Badwater and hills to simulate the mountains we would be climbing. Where ever possible I integrated the two as you might run flat for 8 hours and then run hills for 6-7, due to the course layout so we factored in both into long days. Rest periods as well were necessary as I find I need these, sometimes a week of nothing to refresh my legs and back. I had a long period of time with hardly any running for the three weeks prior to leaving for Las Vegas, our base for a week prior to the run. This was because I was physically tired but also because I was finding Auckland’s winter just bloody hard to train in for any length of time, so cold! Sauna training was the focus for these three weeks as well, in order to acclimatise to the predicted 50 degree plus heat we would be experiencing.

A week in Vegas at 40-44 degrees, and the meeting of our crew there and we were on our way into Death Valley, a three and half hour drive. I’d interviewed two guys from the “volunteer” section of the Badwater website, both of whom lived in the USA, and offered them roles, and through Jon Ackland had come across another volunteer who herself had unsuccessfully applied a few years earlier. The three joined Lisa, my wife, and I, and we all hit it off straight away.

I got great vibes early on from the way we knitted together. Barb Owen, from Canada, who had many 100 mile events and a Double Ironman finisher herself (that’s 2 Ironmans, one event!!), Jay Riley, a paramedic and fire-fighter, and Jon Olszyk, both with a number of Ultras between them.

They had taken a punt on me and I on them.

We did a lot of purchasing of gear and food at a local Wal-Mart before leaving Vegas. I like supporting the little guy too and even found the spray bottles we would use to douse me down from the heat in a local beauty shop!

The event day dawned, and all the prep and thinking about this race was gone and the realisation that I was running a race that only three other New Zealanders before me had run was hitting me fair and square in the chin. I was nervous, on edge and to be honest just a little concerned that I was out of my league.

I had dreamed about this moment for so long, watched the YouTube clips of all the past races, watched the documentary “Running on the Sun” about 20 times, read up on as much as I could possibly get my hands on, spoken to last year’s runner and crew and here I was, on the start line, having just had a photo with the famous Dr Ben Jones, now Mayor of Badwater. I walked up to the start line having kissed my wife, hugged my crew and smiled for the press gallery. This was it!

The race director Chris Kostman started counting down from 10 and we were off. Along with 30 others I was lucky enough to get the 6.00am wave which meant I had 4-5 hours before it got towards 50 degrees C. The previous days at Furnace Creek had shown us that you wake early to 40 degrees and by about 12.00 it’s close to if not above 50 degrees C. It may climb to 55 but usually that is further into the valley, near the second check point at Stove Pipe Wells, some 68 km’s away.

I did exactly what I had trained to do for all the long runs back in Auckland. I walked for about 20 minutes, before I even thought about running. I let the adrenaline wear its way out and I settled down into my work. By the time I started running I was calmer and feeling good. I had a great first section, 17 miles, 28 km’s, to Furnace Creek, getting there in 4 hours 11 min’s. I felt strong and while my crew wanted me to stop and change shoes, I kept on running and met them further down the road. We had planned to change shoes every 30-40km’s. This was simply to maximise the cushion in the shoe and reduce the heat coming through to my feet. The road temperature gets as high as 80 degrees and the heat through the shoe is very noticeable early on.

Lisa had taped my feet expertly again, each toe cocooned in its own plaster sock and then inside the glove fit of my Injinji socks, no opportunity for any friction or rubbing. I found this taping and sock system to be absolutely brilliant again. I did not blister on any part of my feet for the entire race, and not many racers can attest to that!

Stove Pipe Wells beckoned. This would be a crucial section. Everyone I had spoken to had said the same thing. ‘Just get to Stove Pipe with as little detrimental effect as possible and reassess then’, they told

me. I ground this section out, being conservative at times but always feeling in control. I was becoming comfortable with the heat. I got there in 11 hours 22 minutes, 41 miles, 72 km’s down.

Past competitors had said to me to have a swim in the pool and a rest there. But the 60 hour clock was ticking very loudly in my mind and I was feeling great, so I thought I’d have a full gear change, a quick shower and get on my way. My crew were visibly tired but I had something to eat and got going with a down period of only 23 min’s from stop to start. I could tell that they had been hoping to have spent longer there, the pool looked very inviting! As it was they were to get a reprieve fairly soon.

From Stove Pipe Wells you immediately start climbing with the eventual destination being “Father Crowley’s Point”, 5000 feet up, spread over 30 continuous km’s of straight up climb. However about 2-3 km’s out I was clearly having difficulty. My breathing had started to labour, I was sweating profusely, my speed had dropped off and I felt like crap! I was heating up big time and thankfully I’d picked up on the warning signs quickly. I advised my crew. They dragged out a piece of rubber mat we had and I lay down on the side of the road. They placed ice cold cans between my arms, ice packs over my torso and around my neck and over my legs. I was there for 35 minutes cooling down.

When I got up I felt immediately better and was off again at my normal pace. It had come on incredibly quickly and I’d been very lucky that it hadn’t progressed into anything worse. For others I had spoken to they had had to return to Stove Pipe and recuperate. Every year this section of the race gets a number of people. What I also heard later was that it was 55 degrees C when we arrived at Stove Pipe Wells.

I was approximately 16 hours in at this stage, about 10.00pm, and it was dark. I have never experienced 40 degree night running before. It was great at first but the more we got into the climb the less running we would do and the more walking. It was very steep in sections and just went on and on for what seemed hours. Reaching the summit was a great feeling but my feet were really starting to feel the effects of the race. However, if I thought they were bad then I had no idea how bad they would be in hours to come. Heading down the other side of this mountain to Panamint Springs, the third check point, was truly the toughest section of the race for me so far. I was starting to go into the hurt box and everything was feeling sore, really sore!

Man did I grumble through this section. It seemed to go on and on. The worst thing was that due to the distances being unable to be assessed but the lights of the check point clearly visible, it seemed closer than it actually was. Like a mirage off in the distance it hung there seemingly no closer hour after hour. When I got there I was in a bit of a state, exhausted, very sore in the feet department and very grumpy. None of the crew wanted much to do with me, understandably, but they did correctly enforce a stop and sleep. I had crazily suggested going on but thankfully they forced me to stop. I found a side of a double bed unoccupied in the race rooms allocated to us and crawled onto it, lying next to a Mexican racer in the same state. Neither of us said anything, we were both lights out.

I awoke with Lisa saying I’d had an hour’s sleep to find my Mexican friend had done a runner on me. And we hadn’t even got to introduce ourselves! I got up feeling groggy but soon felt considerably better. I had food, drink and got my shoes back on and took off feeling a huge surge of excitement realising I had got through an incredibly tough section and was into day 2 in relatively good shape.

I had got to Panamint in 22 hours and 44 minutes and spent another hour and a half sleeping, eating and changing. I left there at approx 24 hours but had completed 72 miles, 116 km’s, more than half the course in one day and about 5 miles up on 48 hour pace. This knowledge spurred me on to race up the next climb with what seemed ease at first. My feet had calmed down with the 1 hour rest, and they had cooled down and reduced in swelling. I got to the top where it plateau’s for a while and headed for the next major check point, a downhill false flat to Darwin, 90 miles, 145 km. I got there at bang on 30 hours. I had averaged just 3 miles an hour for the race so far but was 45 miles from the finish line with 18 hours to do it in. It was no longer a 60 hour target but a 48 hour ‘buckle’ now looked achievable.

In terms of talking about my race goal prior to the race I had been very careful to just talk about “completing” the race in the 60 hours available, when asked this question. But secretly I had felt that if I handled the heat well enough I could possibly look at 48 hours and a Badwater Buckle. Now this was visibly in sight.

From Darwin you can see the mountains off in the distance, and the finish line becomes a visible location. You are at about 5000ft and you start to go downhill to 4000ft at Lone Pine, a distance of approx 28 miles, 45 km’s, before you again climb to the finish line at the Whitney Portals, (8360 feet) the entry to Mount Whitney’s summit, (14000 feet). The climb to the portals is 17 miles straight up, about a half marathon, with the reducing oxygen and the affects of the race taking their toll on the speed and progress of all but the very best runners.

From Darwin to Lone Pine, I started to focus heavily on the clock and distance and got regular 1km updates from my crew. What I didn’t know was that they were exaggerating the distance left, each time, to give me an additional buffer. I had been told by Barb that I should allow at least 5 hours to climb the mountain so I had in my mind 13 hours to get through the next 45 km’s to Lone Pine, some of it down hill. I started to feel confident about the 48 hour target for the first time in the race.

However I did not want complacency to set in so worked hard to get to Lone Pine with as much of a buffer as I could manage. It was in the heat of the day now and really hot again. The last few miles to Lone Pine were incredibly tough, the feet were on fire again and I was returning to the familiar territory that I had experienced in Panamint Springs. I had another heat episode on the outskirts of Lone Pine and this time had a reaction to the cooling down effect as well. The same procedure as Stove Pipe was used but this time I cooled down so rapidly that the I went into convulsions and had to put clothing back on to warm up. It was an incredible sensation. One minute so hot I couldn’t go on and the next so cold I couldn’t control my body and the tremors it was racked with. Thankfully I calmed down after getting warm again and was able to keep going.

Lisa advised that race ‘webcam’ was just up the road and that they had had texts from people, as we were back in cell phone range, and that they were watching and following us. I can’t remember what I said to those that were watching at home but I can remember feeling a huge energy rush to know I had support from all those miles away.

The website that I had set up back home, ( in conjunction with The charity I was running for—The National Burn Centre, Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, included a Google map and a ‘virtual’ me running down the course we had pasted onto it, courtesy of a satellite phone we had in one of the cars sending my GPS coordinates back to the website.

I got to Lone Pine with 7 hours and 45 minutes to go to make the 48 hour buckle. Barb, who had crewed before at Badwater, reliably advised me I only needed 5 hours to climb the mountain to the finish line and that most people could do it in that time. To have the buffer I had was a testament to the hard work we had put in from Darwin, and my crew pacing and pushing me along. I had averaged 3 miles an hour from the start of the race to Darwin but had done nearly 4 miles an hour from Darwin to Lone Pine. I could now feel a lot more comfortable about the final climb.

The climb began, once again at about 10.00pm when it was fully dark. This was good in one way, obviously cooler, but disappointing also as it would have been fantastic to have seen the views as we climbed up the mountain. It was a hell of a climb and seemed to go on forever once again. I remember having a pee on the side of the road in the pitch black, most of the way up, and being informed after the race that if I had of stepped off the road at that point I would have fallen a couple of thousand feet, such were the drops from the edge of the road.

Not that I had any idea. I was truly operating now on fumes. It was one foot in front of the other. The lack of oxygen was now becoming a real part of the equation and my whole body was just exhausted.

A very funny thing happened when we were about 200 metres from the finish. The area is renowned for bears, and low and behold we were greeted by a large black bear on the side of the road staring at us as we entered the car park area and final finish line. It was surreal, and quite possibly could have been dangerous, as these guys don’t play and are not cuddly! But we navigated our way past him, my crew actually moving faster than me for the first time for a while as they had fallen into my slow walking mode as well.

My crew held back for me to cross the line and then followed in behind me. 45 hours, 41 minutes and 29 seconds, a medal and a buckle!!

There were no woops of joy or laughs and shouting but just an incredibly intense feeling of satisfaction and pride on my behalf, hand-shakes all round, a big hug from me for Lisa and a whole lot of smiling from all of us. We were all too exhausted to do much else. I thanked my crew from my heart as they were just as instrumental in my success, they were amazing.

Chris Kostman, race director, asked the standard question, ‘so Dave, how do you feel?’ I struggled with a response. It was such an eerie feeling to have accomplished this absolutely huge thing. I think my response was that I felt that we had accomplished a really big mission, a mission that had had incredible up and downs throughout it and that had had a starting point many months if not years before, but that we had accomplished it now and that it was great!

And so it was, mission accomplished!! Thank you to all sponsors, supporters, donors to The National Burn Centre and well wishers. Thank you to my crew!

I loved every minute of it and am proud to have contested and accomplished this challenge. See you out there. Dave Walker