Badwater 135 is one of THE legendary races on the calendar. The conditions make it one of the toughest, and each year it delivers outstanding results. 96 runners (out of the maximum 100) were there at the start in Death Valley this year. It was a day for surprises, a newcomer took the men’s title and what a day for USA women – all three podium places. Go America!
Badwater is set over 135 miles (217km) from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, California, USA. It is a one stage race, with the start at night. 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 Badwater 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent.
Last year was a record-breaking year with both the men’s and women’s records smashed by Pete Kostelnick and Alyson Venti respectively. Pete came in at 21.56.32 and Alyson delivered a time of 25.33.07.
Sandra Villines. Photo credit: Badwater 135.
This year, in the men’s race, it was the turn of Wataru Lino of Japan who made it across the line in 24:56. In 2nd place was Marco Bonfiglio 25:44 and the fantastic Harvey Lewis fought every step of the way to come in at third, just behind Marco with 26:45. Just 8 days ago Harvey ran 144 miles at the 24hr World Championships in Belfast. He went into Badwater unsure how his body would hold up and saying, “I could come first, or I could come last.” That man has legs! Pete Kostelnick wasn’t able to make it into the top spot three years in a row but placed solidly in 5th with 28:18.
31-year-old Wataru Lino, who lives and works in Germany, put in a great race, coming through in the final hours for his win. Kostelnick and Bonfiglio had led for much of it.
The women’s race was a battle royale but ended up in an all-American victory. Sandra Villines took the top position with 34:34:43, Amy Costa was second and Pamela Chapman-Markle got the third spot. Pamela is 61 years old proving once again that age really is just a number! “You just feel wonderful and proud of yourself for accomplishing something that’s very hard to accomplish,” she says.
A stunning performance by those strong USA women. Congratulations to all the winners and all the runners.