Press release from ATRA corporate member AdventureCORPS.
THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST FOOT RACE CELEBRATES 40th ANNIVERSARY OF ICONIC ROUTE FROM DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK TO MOUNT WHITNEY: INTRODUCING THE 100 WORLD’S TOUGHEST ATHLETES
Death Valley, CA: On July 10-12, AdventureCORPS presents its legendary STYR Labs BADWATER® 135. Now in its 40th year, the world-renowned event pits up to 100 of the world’s toughest athletes against one another and the elements. In scorching temperatures and at altitudes as high as 8,360 feet, ultrarunners from 19 countries and 21 American states will face off in a grueling 135-mile non-stop run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. Widely recognized as “the world’s toughest foot race, “ it is the most demanding and extreme running race on the planet.
The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m). The course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Panamint Springs, Keeler, Alabama Hills, and Lone Pine.
A true “challenge of the champions,” the 2017 STYR Labs Badwater 135 features 62 Badwater veterans and 38 rookies: die hard “ultra-runners” of every speed and ability, as well as athletes who have the necessary running credentials, but are primarily known for their exploits as adventure racers, mountaineers, triathletes, or in other extreme pursuits. With one of the most international fields in race history, the athletes represent nineteen countries: Argentina (3), Australia (2), Brazil (5), Bulgaria (1), Cayman Islands (1), Colombia (1), Czech Republish (1), France (1), Germany (3), Hungary (1), Italy (2), Japan (4), Jordan (2), Mexico (5), Philippines (2), Portugal (1), Sweden (1), United Kingdom (2), and USA (62).
Twenty-one different American states and territories are represented: Arizona (1), California (27), Colorado (3), District of Columbia (1), Florida (8), Georgia (1), Hawaii (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (2), New York (2), North Carolina (2), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (2), Puerto Rico (1), Tennessee (3), Texas (9), and Wyoming (2).
While runners began running the course independently in the 1970s, the race itself has been part of the fabric of life in Inyo County since 1987. A recent study indicated an annual economic impact of 1.2 million dollars, half of it spent in Death Valley National Park and surrounding gateway communities such as Lone Pine, CA. The race is supported by U.S. Congressman Col. Paul Cook (Ret.) of California’s 8th District, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, and a wide panorama of businesses and charities which are positively impacted.
There are 31 women – a record number – and 69 men. The youngest runners are both 28 (Marcia Zhou of Hong Kong and Jared Fetterolf of Dallas,TX.) The oldest female is 61 (2016 finisher and age group record holder Pamela Chapman-Markle of San Leon, Texas) and the oldest male is 70 (six-time finisher Mark K. Olson of Covina, CA). The overall average age is 47. Full roster details are available here.
Both men’s and women’s course records were broken in 2016: Pete Kostelnick, 28, of Lincoln, NE set the new men’s record of 21:56:31, while Alyson Venti (now Allen), 34, of New York, NY, set the new women’s record of 25:53:07. (The former records were held by Valmir Nunez of Brazil with a time of 22:51:29 set in 2007, while the women’s course record of 26:16:12 was previously set in 2010 by Jamie Donaldson of Littleton, CO.) It is expected that the winners of the 2017 STYR Labs Badwater 135 will finish in near record time for both men’s and women’s divisions. The average finishing time is approximately 40 hours, while the overall time limit is 48 hours. For those who finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater 135 belt buckle. There is no prize money.
The 2017 race field is particularly competitive. Veteran men’s contenders include 2015 and 2016 champion Pete Kostelnick, 29, of Hannibal, MO (who also broke the 36-year-old Trans-USA running record last year), 2014 champion Harvey Lewis, 41, of Cincinnati, OH (who placed 2nd in 2016), 2011 men’s champion Oswaldo Lopez, 45, of Madera, CA (Mexico citizenship), two-time men’s runner-up Grant Maughan, 53, of Australia, and other notable contenders such as 2016 Badwater Salton Sea champions Jared Fetterolf, 28, of Dallas, TX and Ray Sanchez, 50, of Sacramento, CA, as well as Marco Bonfiglio 39, of Abbiategrasso, Italy, a three-time Nove Colli champion and Spartathlon runner-up in 2016.
The largest women’s field in race history is also stacked with talent, but – for the first time in perhaps two decades – no recent women’s Badwater 135 champions. The women’s field of 31 runners includes 11 rookies and 20 veterans. Notable contenders include two-time Badwater 135 veteran Brenda Guajardo who is a three-time winner of the Nove Colli ultramarathon in Italy and placed 2nd female and 10th overall in the 2016 STYR Labs Badwater 135. Rookie entrant Noelani Taylor, 37, of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL is the women’s 2015 and 2016 Daytona 100 winner and 2016 women’s Badwater Cape Fear champion. Rookie entrant Szilvia Lubics of Nagykanizsa, Hungary, 43, is the three-time women’s champion of the Spartathlon in Greece and three-time women’s winner of the Ultrabalaton in Hungary. With a record number of women competing, it will be an intense battle.
Also competing are Badwater legends Marshall Ulrich, 66, of Evergreen, CO, a twenty-time Badwater 135 finisher and four-time winner in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996, along with David Jones, 65, of Murfreesboro, TN, the 1997 Badwater 135 race champion, eight-time finisher, and 60+ age group record holder, as well as Badwater Hall of Fame inductee Lisa Smith-Batchen, a nine-time finisher who was the women’s champion in 1997 and 1998. Danny Westergaard, 58, of Palos Verdes Estates, CA notched his tenth consecutive Badwater 135 finish in 2016 and will receive a special plaque commemorating that effort before he toes the line again this year.
Every year is a new year at the STYR Labs Badwater 135, with rookies and “previously unknown” athletes surprising the contenders with top performances. New stars will shine as the race unfolds.
As detailed on the race roster, the race will begin in three waves on Monday evening, July 10:
- Wave 1 (800pm): 16 men and 19 women; 11 rookies and 24 veterans
- Wave 2 (930pm): 28 men and 5 women; 18 rookies and 15 veterans
- Wave 3 (1100pm): 25 men and 7 women; 9 rookies and 23 veterans
The STYR Labs Badwater 135 is the final event in the Badwater® Ultra Cup, a three-race series which began with the 51-mile Badwater® Cape Fear in March, continued with the 81-mile Badwater® Salton Sea in April, and now concludes with the STYR Labs Badwater 135 in July. Those runners who complete all three events in the same calendar year are featured on the Badwater.com website and their virtues are extolled throughout the Internet and in future editions of BADWATER Magazine. In 2014, seven athletes completed the entire Badwater Ultra Cup, nine completed the 2015 Badwater Ultra Cup, sixteen completed the 2016 Badwater Ultra Cup, while nineteen racers completed the first two Badwater races this year and will toe the line at this third and final Badwater race on July 10.
Now in its eighteenth year producing this race, AdventureCORPS is pleased to welcome the return of our title sponsor, STYR Labs, an innovative nutrition customization and tracking platform delivering cutting-edge supplements to connected athletes and health and fitness consumers worldwide. The advanced ecosystem includes an activity tracker, wireless scale, wireless water bottle, and free app that collects health and fitness data to create personalized multivitamins or protein blends specific to the user’s health and fitness goals and needs. Sergio Radovcic, founder of STYR Labs, is no stranger to this race with three consecutive Badwater 135 finishes. More info at www.styr.com
AdventureCORPS also greatly appreciates the support of Farm to Feet Socks, Caring House Project Foundation, ZZYXXZ, and ZombieRunner.com, plus the local support of Furnace Creek Ranch, Stovepipe Wells Resort, Panamint Springs Resort, Dow Villa, Pizza Factory, the community of Lone Pine, CA, the people of Inyo County, and other generous companies and individuals. More info about our sponsors.
Official Charities of the Badwater 135 include the Challenged Athletes Foundation. As one of the very few charities that provides grants directly to athletes with a physical disability, the Challenged Athletes Foundation has raised over 47 million dollars and directly assisted thousands of challenged athletes world-wide. AdventureCORPS also supports the Bald Head Island Conservancy, Death Valley Natural History Association, Conservation Alliance, and One Percent For The Planet. One of the goals of the Badwater 135 is to raise funds for, and awareness of, these organizations. More info.
This year, over 50 of the race entrants are competing on behalf of a charity of their choice. Some of those include 100 Mile Club, Bald Head Island Conservancy, Caring House Project Foundation, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Death Valley Natural History Association, Great East Japan Earthquake, Race to Erase MS, The Herren Project, WeROCK Orange County, and others. All are listed on the race roster.
This year’s race celebrates the 40th anniversary of Al Arnold’s original trek from Badwater to Mt. Whitney in 1977. Arnold, an ultrarunning pioneer and human potential guru, competed in a solo effort: it was just Arnold and his support crew against the elements and the clock. The official head-to-head race began ten years after Arnold’s pioneer trek, in 1987, and has been held annually without serious incident, fatality, or any citations issued by any branch of law enforcement. For more info about Al Arnold and also the original race click these links:
Oak Park, CA-based AdventureCORPS®, Inc. is an athlete-run firm producing and promoting ultra-endurance sports events and the world’s toughest brand, BADWATER®. Adventure is our way of life. AdventureCORPS’ world-class events for athlete-adventurers include epic races such as the STYR Labs Badwater® 135, BADWATER® Salton Sea, and BADWATER® Cape Fear, and other events. Our products include the Badwater® line of apparel, skin care products, gear, and services. Founded in 1984 by Chris Kostman, this group effort is dedicated to exploring the inner and outer universes, seeking adventure, energy, and insight both in daily life and “out there.” More info: www.adventurecorps.com and www.badwater.com.