On July 11-13, 2022, AdventureCORPS will present its legendary BADWATER® 135 Ultramarathon, the 135-Mile World Championship. Now in its 45th year, this world-renowned event pits up to 100 of the world’s toughest athletes against one another and the elements in a crucible like no other. From below sea level in scorching temperatures to altitudes as high as 8,360 feet (2548m), 95 endurance athletes representing 23 nations plus 28 American states and the Navajo Nation will face off in a grueling 135-mile non-stop running race from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. Widely recognized as “the world’s toughest foot race,” the invitational Badwater 135 is the most demanding and extreme running race on the planet.
The start line is at Badwater Basin, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 282’ (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, Darwin, Keeler, Alabama Hills, and Lone Pine.
The Badwater 135 is held under permits from – and in close collaboration with – Death Valley National Park, California Department of Transportation, Inyo National Forest, and Inyo County.
AdventureCORPS – on behalf of all competitors and support crews – also gratefully acknowledges that these lands have been lived upon for at least 1000 years by native peoples, including the Timbisha Shoshone and the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone tribes who live on the race course today. We honor and share their deep reverence for these lands.
While runners began running the course 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 former 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.
THE 2022 RACE FIELD
The ultimate “challenge of the champions,” the 2022 Badwater 135 features 33 Badwater veterans and 62 rookies: die hard “ultra-runners” who have the necessary running credentials to not only apply for, but be selected, to compete in the race.
As always, the race will boast a very international field. The 95 athletes in the 2022 Badwater 135 represent twenty-three countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Greece, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela, along with the Navajo Nation. See the full roster here.
Twenty-eight different American states are represented: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
There are 32 women and 63 men. The youngest runners are Lindsay Phenix, 31, of Los Angeles, CA, and Iván Penalba Lopez, 31, of Valencia, Spain; both are rookies. The oldest runners are Pamela Chapman-Markle, 66, of SanLeon, TX, and Bob Becker, 778, of Fort Lauderdale, FL; both are many-time finishers. The overall average age is 49.
Of special note, Gerald Tabios is going for his seventh finish, Amy Costa is going for her eighth finish, Joshua Holmes is going for his eighth consecutive finish, Kimberlie Budzik is going for her ninth finish, Karla Kent is going for her tenth consecutive finish, Harvey Lewis is going for his eleventh consecutive finish this year, David Jones is going for his twelfth finish, Ray Sanchez is going for his 14th consecutive finish, and Danny Westergaard is going for his 15th consecutive finish.
Every year is a new year at the Badwater 135, with both veterans and rookie athletes impressing everyone with incredible, gutsy performances. With every single runner hungry to go home with the coveted Badwater 135 Official Finisher Belt Buckle – and give their absolute best performance – both known and new stars will shine as the race unfolds.
COURSE RECORDS and FINISHING TIMES:
Men’s: Yoshihiko Ishikawa, 2019, Japan: 21:33:01.
Women’s: Patrycja Bereznowska, 2019, Poland, 24:13:24.
For Age Group records and more info, click here.
It is expected that the winners of the 2022 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, referred to as “the Holy Grail of Ultra Running.” There is no prize money.
As detailed on the race roster, the race will begin in three waves on Monday evening, July 11. They are assigned according to their predicted finishing time, with the Fast Runners going first, Faster Runners going second, and Fastest Runners (at least on paper) going third.
• Wave 1 (800pm): 23 men and 12 women; 26 rookies and 9 veterans = 35 runners
• Wave 2 (930pm): 24 men and 6 women; 13 rookies and 11 veterans = 30 runners
• Wave 3 (1100pm): 18 men and 14 women; 17 rookies and 15 veterans = 32 runners
BADWATER ULTRA CUP – A THREE EVENT SERIES
The 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 late April, and now concludes with the 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 it in 2015, sixteen in 2016, fifteen in 2017, eight in 2018, eleven in 2019, and six in 2021. Seven 2022 Badwater 135 runners have already completed both Badwater Cape Fear and Badwater Salton Sea, and will now attempt the final – and most difficult – leg of this epic, three-event series.
OFFICIAL SPONSORS AND CHARITIES
Now in its twenty-third year producing this race, AdventureCORPS is pleased to welcome Joe Nimble Shoes, Pure Vitamin Club, and NSNG Foods as Official Sponsors of Badwater. We also thank the Oasis at Death Valley, Stovepipe Wells Resort, Panamint Springs Resort, and Dow Villa of Lone Pine, the community of Lone Pine, CA, the County of Inyo, the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, and other generous companies and individuals who support Badwater 135 each year. More info about our sponsors.
Official Charities of Badwater 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 112 million dollars and directly assisted more than 26,000 challenged athletes in 70 countries world-wide. Since 2002, we have raised over $800,000 for Challenged Athletes Foundation.
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. Additionally, many of the race entrants are competing on behalf of a charity of their choice, and these are noted and linked from the race roster.
A LEGENDARY HISTORY
This year’s race celebrates the 45th anniversary of Al Arnold’s original trek from Badwater Basin to Mt. Whitney in 1977. Arnold, an ultrarunning pioneer, human potential guru, and health club manager, competed in a solo effort: it was just Arnold and his support crew against the elements and the clock. It took him three efforts before he was successful, having first attempted the route in 1974 and then 1975.
Four years later, Jay Birmingham also completed the course, in 1981. The official head-to-head race began ten years after Arnold’s pioneer trek, in 1987, and has been held annually since then without serious incident, fatality, or any citations issued by any branch of law enforcement. (The race was sadly canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020.)
AdventureCORPS brought Al to the race in 2002, the 25th anniversary of his run, and he was treated like a rock star by everyone in attendance. Sadly, we lost our incredible friend Al Arnold when he passed away on September 6, 2017 at the age of 89. He is sorely missed, but his spirit lives on with each year’s edition of the world’s toughest foot race.
Jay Birmingham, who turns 77 in July, remains very active with the world of Badwater, not only by serving on the Badwater 135 Application Review Committee for more than 15 years, but also as an athlete. He has competed in all of the Badwater races over the past nine years.
The first women to complete the course were Jeannie Ennis (USA) and Eleanor Adams (United Kingdom), both of whom competed in the inaugural race in 1987. Ennis was brought to the race as a special guest in 2005 and inducted into the Badwater Hall of Fame.
For more info about Al Arnold, Jay Birmingham, and the original race click these links:
WEBCAST, RACE UPDATES, PRESS CREDENTIALS, AND FURTHER INFO:
For media attending the event in person, download the full 2022 Badwater 135 Press Kit at at this link.
FOLLOWING THE BADWATER 135 ONLINE
For the duration of the 2022 race, fans can follow the race through a “live” webcast at this link (which will remain archived at that link.)
Follow the 2022 time splits and results at this link.
Follow the race on Twitter @Badwater: http://twitter.com/badwater
Official Hashtag across all social media: #Badwater135
Follow the race staff’s live photostream on Instagram @BadwaterHQ
Follow the race director’s live photostream on Instagram @ChrisKostman
Follow the AdventureCORPS race staff’s photostream archive on Flickr
Download the July 2022 issue of BADWATER Magazine at this link.