The Badwater Ultramarathon
describes itself as "the world's toughest foot race". It is a course starting at 282 feet (85 m) below sea level in the Badwater Basin
, in California
's Death Valley
, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal
, the trailhead to Mount Whitney
. It takes place annually in mid-July, when the weather conditions are most extreme and temperatures over 120 °F (49 °C), even in the shade, are not uncommon. Consequently, very few people—even among ultramarathoners—are capable of finishing this grueling race.
Originally, the run was conceived as being between the lowest and the highest points in the contiguous United States: Badwater, Death Valley (−282 ft) and Mt. Whitney's summit (14,505 ft). The two are only eighty miles apart on the map, but the land route between the two points is substantially longer, , because of detours around lakebeds and over mountain ranges. Additionally, since the finish-line is from the nearest trailhead, anyone who competes over the race-distance must be capable of a total physical effort of . Due to the two mountain ranges that must be crossed between Badwater and Whitney, the course's cumulative elevation gain
exceeds 19,000 feet (5,800 m).
In later years, as the United States Forest Service
required summit permits to climb Mt. Whitney, the official course was shortened to end at Whitney Portal. The Badwater-to-Portal course is long, with 13,000 feet (4,000... Read More