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Badwater Cape Fear 2015: new location + beach = fun weekend!

2015 Badwater Cape Fear 51.4, by Jodi Weiss

In 2014, I signed up for the inaugural Badwater Cape Fear 51.4 in the same manner I climb on board for any other ultra event: a new location + beach = fun weekend. I was in! Soon the word was out amongst my Florida ultra buddies, and before we knew it we had gathered a group of 10+ runners and their families to share a house on the remote Bald Head Island in North Carolina. This turned out to be one of the funniest and most memorable race weekends of the year for our group – grammar lessons and kitty cat shenanigans and all – so when it was time to sign up for the 2015 race, it took all of about three hours for 14 of us to jump on board and opt to share a house, fly down together, and race!


Destination: Bald Head Island

If you seek serenity, beauty, the chance to room with buddies in rustic, beachy mansions, and life with seriously limited internet/Wi-Fi for the weekend, Badwater Cape Fear is the perfect destination race. Add to that no cars – bikes or golf carts are the transportation mode on the island – and less than a handful of restaurants + one market, and you are truly in getaway heaven. There is a quaintness to the island that is reminiscent of New England charm, only a bit more down to earth.

This year we rented the roomy Marsh Madness, which overlooked – you guessed it – a marsh, that Bob Becker noted would likely be mosquito heaven in the summer months. Within a few hours, MM became our home away from home, with each of us cozy on the living room couches, the fireplace blazing, magazines sprawled across the dining room table, and the kitchen humming with our famous chefs, not to mention enough food and treats tucked in our refrigerator and across our countertops to feed a small army versus a dozen runners. The best thing about sharing a house with buddies is that it alleviates pre-race jitters as we are all too busy discussing everything but the race to worry.

51.4: Road, Trail, Beach

After a pleasant day of lounging around the island, it was time to lace up our running shoes and get moving! The race commences at Old Baldy Lighthouse, and continues along the winding roads of Bald Head Island, weaving in and out of alleys and paths filled with sprawling mansions and picturesque beach landscapes. A tad over 10 miles, just when you start to feel super at ease and comfortable with your gait, you enter the enchanted tangle of North Carolina trail, which requires you to maneuver tree branches overhead, roots and tree stumps below, and the occasional log and other trail debris to stumble over. And yet, the trail is a magical element of the race. For 1.4 miles you are immersed in a faraway world that forces you to focus, navigate, and utilize your obstacle-course skills. Just when you get comfortable in the trail’s shade, you are back on the road, making your way towards the beach: Endless stretches of majestic, solitude-ridden beach. The waves crashing the shore and drifting out to sea. Birds coming in for a landing and flocks of baby birds scattering the shore like school children out to play. This year the high tide coincided with the mass of us runners hitting the beach, along with a fierce wind that permeated your ears and chest, so that each step forward was a bit of a struggle, until you acclimated, and were absorbed by the ocean’s mesmerizing crash and retreat.

Jodi Weiss on East Beach. Photo by Robert Lee II of

Jodi Weiss on East Beach. Photo by Robert Lee II of

For me, the 39 or so miles on the beach stretch is a time to think and not to think. A time to push and a time to be pulled. An opportunity to be alone in your own mind, which is something that we so rarely achieve in our everyday on-the-go lives. I am a believer that monotony forces us to go inside, to a place where the possibility of change and growth resides – a place where our true magic is born. The first 30 or so miles I was more silent than not, which is untypical for chatty me. But I was afraid that if I spoke, I would break down and all sorts of “I can’t do this; it’s too hard; I don’t have it in me” would come out of me. I was scared I would talk myself out of the possibility of success. And so I let silence take over. I let the rhythm of my feet guide me. I listened to my breath. I followed my running partner and moved and breathed and tried not to project ahead. I tied my goals to arriving at one aid station after another. In an ultra-race, there are so many little mini triumphs: hitting the halfway mark, the 50K mark, then knowing that it is only one more stretch of 10 miles separating you from all the things you want to enjoy in life when the race is over!

Beyond the running, beyond the struggles, and the triumphs – PR’s and 1st-time ultra finishes – one of the most fulfilling aspects of running ultras for me is the camaraderie on the course. At Badwater Cape Fear, you get to run amongst 100+ of your old and new friends, cheering one another on and offering accolades along the way – “you got this,” to “almost done,” to “great jobs” abound. Crossing the finish line is a perk, but it is by no means the reward. For me, when it comes to ultra races, what I gain is deeply internal and personal and something that is in no way tied to a finish time or performance: I get that much closer to accepting and understanding elements of myself.

Just some of the Florida contingent. Photo by Chris Kostman of

Just some of the Florida contingent. Photo by Chris Kostman of

The Badwater Cape Fear Groupies

But a race is about so much more than a race. It is about friendship. It is about the day before the race traveling via planes, shuttles, ferries, and trams to arrive at your race-weekend digs. It is about sitting around on couches in a rented mansion and sharing stories and laughter. It is about fun and games and taking a time out from our everyday lives. It is about setting the long dining room table for the pre-race house dinner, and the morning-of-the race 5 am foot-taping party. It is about waiting at that finish line to cheer in each and every runner friend, and sharing a glass of wine or beer when the race is over. It is about the following day, when a bit broken, a bit more put together, you all attend the post-race group breakfast, and then catch the ferry to journey home together, to your own little lives and back into worlds that are not about races, not about finish lines, not about medals and buckles, but about memories and friendships that last throughout the year. It is about not hesitating for one moment when it’s time to sign up for the 2016 edition of Badwater Cape Fear – and immediately starting the dialogue about which house you want to rent on the island come next year.

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

Download as PDF.

Badwater Basin, Death Valley (282ft / 85.5m below sea level), Mile Zero (Start Line)
The race begins here adjacent to a pool of saltwater located at the lowest place in North America. There are toilets, but no other services.

Furnace Creek Ranch (170’ / 51m below sea level), 17.5mi / 28.2km (Time Checkpoint #1)
The first oasis in our journey. Two hotels, gas station, general store, restaurants, camping, and ice are available. Stock up here on ice, water, food, supplies, and gas both before the race and when you pass through during the race!

Stovepipe Wells (Sea Level), 42.2mi / 68km (Time Checkpoint #2)
A general store, gas station, restaurant and motel. Location of the race’s Medical HQ for most of first 15 hours of the race. It is critical that you stock up on ice, water, food, supplies, and gas when you pass through here during the race!

Towne Pass (4956’ / 1511m), 58.7mi / 94.5km (Time Checkpoint #3)
From Stovepipe Wells, it’s 17-mile long ascent with 5000’ of elevation gain to the highest point of the race course. There are two important landmarks along the ascent: 1) The 2000′ Elevation Sign located at Mile 50.8, which must be passed by ALL runners by 1000am on the first morning of the race. 2) The Wildrose Parking Lot on the right at Mile 51.2, with lots of space for support crews to park, plus toilets.

After cresting the Towne Pass summit and passing Time Checkpoint #3, it’s a 10-mile long descent with 3000’ feet of elevation loss into the Panamint Valley. On both sides, 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’ / 610m), 72.7mi / 117km (Time Checkpoint #4)
Gas station, mini-mart, plus restaurant and motel. 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. It is critical that you stock up on ice, water, food, supplies, and gas when you pass through here during the race! (Get some real food for both runners AND crew!)

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. This is known as the Father Crowley Climb.

Father Crowley’s Turnout (4000’ / 1219m), 80.65mi / 130km
The bathrooms and parking lot that designate this viewpoint are not the top of this ascent, though you may hope so. The road continues to rise to 5000’ / 1524m over rolling hills, then eventually descends into the Owen’s Valley.

Darwin Turn-Off (5050’ / 1540m), 90.7mi / 146km (Time Checkpoint  #5)
There are no services here, but 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.” The Darwin time station is where the race usually starts to get serious for all entrants. Look for “gunsite notch” about 9.3 miles ahead to indicate your 100-mile mark! The generally flat or slightly downhill stretch ahead can be tedious and demoralizing; Mt. Whitney is visible ahead and never seems to get closer! See a video of this location.

Keeler (3610’ / 1100m), 108.4mi / 174km (Time Checkpoint #6)
This is a small mining town with no facilities which abuts the Owens Dry Lake Bed on 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 high in the mountains.

Lone Pine (3610’ / 11km), 122.7mi / 197.5km (Time Checkpoint #7)
Lone Pine offers the weary runner and crew all the amenities of a real town: café fare, fast food, pizza, restaurants, motels, gas stations, a grocery store, and much more, not to mention our Race Headquarters at the Dow Villa. Restock here for the climb to Whitney Portal as there no services after Lone Pine. Turn left onto the Whitney Portal Road to begin the final leg, the longest and steepest climb of the race (13 miles or 21km with 5000 feet or 1524m of elevation gain). Temperatures will steadily decrease during the ascent (though depending on time of day). As you ascend Mt. Whitney, be sure your support vehicle is always parked completely off of the road and that you do not block traffic, not even for a moment.

Portal Road / Base of the Switchbacks (6890’ / 2100m), 131.1mi / 211km (Time Checkpoint #8)
After the turn from Hwy 395 in Lone Pine, it’s 8.3 miles or 13.4km to the final Time Checkpoint, located at the start of the switchbacks. For nighttime finishers, be prepared with extra layers of clothing; at night it can approach freezing temperature. The Portal Road is steep and very narrow: please drive and park extra carefully all the way to the finish! 

Mt. Whitney Trailhead, (8360’ / 2548m), 135mi / 217km
Congratulations! You have finished The World’s Toughest Foot Race! A small burger shack / shop are open during daylight hours (and they serve the BEST pancakes, fries, and burgers.) 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, 2016, and 2017 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.

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.

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.