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120-degree heat slows runners down

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. —The toughest race known to mankind, the AdventureCorps Badwater Ultra-marathon came to a close Tuesday night at 10:38.

The winner was Carlos Gomes De Sa from Barcelos, Portugal. He ran the 135-mile race with a time of 24:38:16, and this was his first time at Badwater. An Australian runner named Grant Maughan finished second, 24:53:57. Oswaldo Lopez from Fresno, Calif. came in third at 25:27:03.

Ten runners out of the 96 runners who started did not finish the race. One of the non-finishers was the oldest runner in the race, Karsten Solheim. He is 76 years old from Glendale, Ariz. This was his first year.

The youngest racer did finish. She was 25-year-old Alexa Dickerson from Irvine, Calif. She was the 15th female to cross the finish line and 70th overall. She finished at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday. She said it was slightly hotter than last year. The PVT took a thermometer to the race and determined the unofficial temperature to be 119 degrees at Stovepipe Wells.

“This year it was just slower. I saw a lot of people puking, and having issues with the heat. Coming into Stovepipe, I was an hour and a half to two hours slower,” she said.

The heat made Dickerson throw her race plan out the window, but she said she was happy to finish. She said breaks were a key to her finish and this allowed her to move faster instead of trudging around slowly.

“I took a lot of small breaks to regroup myself and that allowed me to move pretty decent,” Dickerson explained.

Mark Matyazic finished eighth in the race and agreed the heat slowed many racers down this year.

“Not only was it 20 degrees warmer, it was also more humid. It was much more difficult than last year. Last year it was only miserable for 30 miles, but this year as soon as we started, it was just bad,” Matyazic said.

He said he really only took one long break and that was at Stovepipe Wells. There he jumped into the pool and spent about 30 minutes bringing down his core temperature.

When Matyazic was asked if he was going to race next year, he replied, “Ask me around wintertime.”

He said it was just too soon after the race to make a decision. He did say one of the reasons he keeps coming back is the camaraderie he experiences every year at the race. “The Badwater racing community is a tight-knit group,” he said.

The fastest time for the women was posted by Catherine Todd of the United Arab Emirates at 29:55:29, the first woman to cross the finish line. She finished 11th overall. Pam Reed had the second-best female time at 30:39:58.

Reed was 13th overall and at 52, was the fastest woman in the 50-and-over age bracket to complete the race.

Charlie Engle, at age 50, was the fastest male to cross the line in the over-50 crowd. He was fifth overall and had a time of 26:15:35.

English runner Chris Moon ran with a disability. He has only one leg and finished 68th with a time of 45:04:40. His goal was to finish faster than last year’s time of 41:50:38 but he had to settle for finishing one place ahead of last year’s time.

A testament to the toughness of the conditions of the race was Eduardo Calisto, who finished first in the Brazil 135. This was the first time he had run this race, and he was predicted to be a top finisher. Calisto finished 36th overall with a time of 38:53:00.