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Commentary: Badwater

April 25, 2012

Badwater is hot. And I mean temperature hot, but it’s also what many athletes would describe as their nirvana.  Endurance athlete David Goggins said in the film, The Distance of Truth, that his questions were answered after finishing Badwater.

This year , 99 people from 16 countries, 2 Canadian provinces and 19 American states will line up at the starting line on July 16, 2012.  Competitors range in age from 30 to 70 and half of them are running Badwater for the first time. Of those returning, some are looking to win while others want to improve their time. The thing about Badwater, is that you don’t know what will happen to you during the race, and that is part of the intrigue.

A special thanks goes to Chris Kostman and his tireless race staff for putting on such an epic race.


If you woke up this morning and thought you might want to run the Badwater 135 desert this year, think again.

To qualify for Badwater, you need to have three 100-mile races under your belt or a combination of other races and a really convincing race



You also need a plan, a few bucks, and a crew that will support you unconditionally.   You’ll run in temperatures up to 130°F, traverse mountain passes in the middle of the night, hell, you might even hallucinate.  But if you feel the need to run for 24 plus hours straight or until the 60-hour cut off without sleep, don’t mind losing a few toenails or having your feet double in size due to swelling and don’t mind ice baths, then Badwater may be for you!

This year 99 brave souls will stand at the starting line. A whole slew of men from Florida happen to be competing this year, and I’ve covered almost all of them in this issue. All but two of them are first timers, and of the eight I profiled, a couple of them, one veteran and one newbie are looking for top 10 finishes.

Mike Morton, Chris Roman, Scott D’Angelo, Dave Carver, Dave Green, Brad Lombardi, Sergio Radovcic and Frank McKinney you may know because they are well-known either in their profession as athletes or whatever they do outside of running. Some of you may know these guys as successful business tycoons, triathletes, or as regular Joes. What makes them all unique goes down to their DNA. All of them possess the genes for drive, motivation, perseverance, stubbornness, quality, integrity, motivation, and in the words of Frank McKinney, a desire for “relentless forward motion.

What some may see as a selfish endeavor to do something great for their individual selves, these men are loving, kind, and inspirational.  They use ultra running to give back to mankind or their fellow brethren. Some do run to race a good race, but not without wanting to share what they do with others.

Each man, as they say, has a destiny. Badwater, because of the salt and heat, will cleanse you both mentally, spiritually, and physically, while it humbles you. It is that feeling that will motivate these men to go to the desert and strip themselves of everything, because in the end, we all get to see their true selves unveiled in the spirit of long distance running. What they don’t know can affect their race as much as what they do know.

It is through endurance racing that an athlete can try to conquer nature while accepting that they can be defeated by it. And what is more fascinating is the endless, enduring dedication of their support crews, who, for a small period time, give everything of themselves in their devoted desire to get their athlete to the finish line. It actually makes me emotional to write this.

When it comes to Badwater, Frank McKinney sums it up this way:

“Here is this group of very normal people who are part of the Badwater culture. There is a culture that transcends the race, that desire to become primal, to push one’s limits and to test one’s self against the environment,” he said.

This couldn’t be more on point.

Alix Shutello is the publisher of Endurance Racing Magazine.




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