The 30th Annivesary Race in 2007: words of wisdom from Al Arnold

Hello fellow Ultra Athletes! Welcome to Badwater 2007!

Time Range Calculation:

24 hrs – (10:39.96/mile),
30 hrs – (13:19.8/mile),
36 hrs – (16:00.00/mile),
42 hrs – (18:39.96/mile),
48 hrs – (21:19.8/mile),
54 hrs – (24:00.00/mile),
60 hrs – (26:39.96/mile),

These calculations are the choreography of the annual Badwater 135 Ultramarathon. It’s all there, from the mythical sub-24-hour finisher to the 60-hour official finishers. From start to finish, it’s a “Grand Parade” of the best and toughest distance runners in the world – from around the vast stretches of our Planet Earth, they merge for the Death Valley Challenge.

It’s hype and glory of human endurance against this unpredictable sanctuary of Mother Nature. Will She be kind and forgiving or will She unleash Her power of vengeance upon those mortals who dare enter this domain of pain, agony, and sometimes more? Let it be understood, by all, veteran or novice: tread lightly and ALWAYS with respect. Each athlete and crew member must never forget that, as a guest of Death Valley National Park, you must obey the Park’s and the Race Organizers’ rules and regulations at ALL times.

The purpose and goal of every team member is the ultimate conclusion of a safe and gratifying performance. Any participant’s failure to honor these guidelines may result in the disqualification from all future Badwater Ultras. Honor and respect is a unique consideration in these types of events, in that there are many miles and hours of which to gain a life-long appreciation of the course and its participants. Fair and courteous involvement is the rule.

This is the “Main Event” – don’t spoil it by doing any of those things that erode the value and beauty of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Be encouraged by, and absorb, the energy of thousands of footsteps past. Let your quest, be it seemingly slow, remain steady as you trod patiently, while enduring the tremendous and unrelenting heat, through the bowels of Hell.

It is normal, especially as Ultramarathoners, to possess, and exercise, that natural competitive desire to excel. But, in Death Valley, this “drive” does not guarantee the best result. To ultra is to venture into the unknown. Caution should be exercised as we enter within this “Cave of the Unknown.”

I urge all of you, especially the crew members, to recognize what is natural and within your “limits”. Many miles and hours stretch out before you… before ALL of you. There is NO reason why any athlete or crew member should fail, IF you abide by reason and common sense!

One of the most serious miscalculations of marathon running is dehydration. In the desert, at ALL times, stay covered. It is the retained moisture on your body surface that keeps you cool. Bare skin is a direct path to failure and injury. Do not become over-hydrated with salt or sugar: either will promote being hypotonic, a sure invitation of “problems.”

Don’t be “cute” as this event is serious business: your life will depend on it. If, as you train for this 135 mile “trek,” you can: (1) walk 50 miles each day, for three days while being mindful of proper foot-care, (2) tolerate high temperatures by exercising respect, caution, and proven techniques, then you have no excuse for failing to finish this torturous trek safely and as an Official Badwater Ultramarathon Finisher :)) Good Luck!

Finally, enjoy your every step by “gliding” the 135 miles as an adventure rather than as combat. You will never beat this race course; you can only traverse it smoothly or “uncomfortably.” The choice is yours. Look at my calculations above and select a reasonable and safe “time-range” BEFORE the race. Stay comfortable and enjoy your adventure. Your elapsed time will be better than you predicted and so will your experience.