Last updated: 26-Nov-18
The men and the women’s records were smashed at Badwater 135 today as Pete Kostelnick and Alyson Venti took on one of the hardest races in the world… And beat it! Pete, who won last year, came in at 21.56.32 which bests the previous record by an hour. It was set by Valmir Nunes, who won in 2007. Alyson delivered a time of 25.33.07 after running an impeccable race and coming fifth overall.
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.
It was a gripping race from start to finish. Dan Lawson from the UK was in the lead at the first checkpoint at 17 miles and fought Pete Kostelnick through the next stages. After TS3 at 73 miles, though, it was Pete’s all the way and he kicked on and dominated. The sport didn’t end there though as the three remaining men’s contenders: Dan Lawson, Mick Thwaites and Harvey Lewis slugged it out for placings. Alyson Venti, snapped at their heels for the whole race, battling every inch of the way.
Harvey Lewis, a previous champion, showed his mettle as he climbed up the rankings and then kicked on to take second place in 23.40.52, leaving the Australian and the Brit to come in together for joint third.
As I write this, there are still many brave souls out there, forging forward relentlessly, aiming for the finish line before the 48-hour time limit, having taken on one of the biggest challenges that ultra has to offer. Along the way, there were always going to be casualties, among them two stars. Carlos Sa from Portugal and Mohamad Ahansal from Morocco.
Mohamad, who has won the MdS five times, was invited over to run for I Run 4 Ultra to raise awareness of autism. He always knew it was going to be a tough race, telling us before he left, “In a way it was a crazy decision to sign up. It is almost the same distance, but the Marathon des Sables takes six days and Badwater is non-stop. I have never run this far in one go. Yes, the temperature will be the same, but the quality of the sun will be different. The altitude, the humidity and the difference between the desert plain and the mountains are all factors. At the start it is going to be very dry with lots of heat coming up from the ground as well, and then by the end, you’re at high altitude. This is the difficulty!”
What a race it was! This sums it up perfectly. “This year’s Badwater race was a blast to follow. There were so many storylines that unfolded on the beautiful and torturous stage that is Death Valley. Seeing Pete Kostelnick and Aly Venti set new course records was a highlight! I am already looking forward to next year.” Tracey Outlaw, Social Media Manager, US National 24 Hour Running Team.