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