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Badwater: 100 runners will start 135-mile race on Monday night

Most people living in town don’t really think of doing much outside in the middle of the summer when the average high is around 105 degrees, let alone going for a run in Death Valley.

This year, 100 runners from all over the world will be gathered at Badwater near Furnace Creek for one of the most grueling footraces in North America, the 39th STYR Labs BADWATER® 135. The 135-mile race starts this Monday at 8 p.m. in Badwater.

The National Weather Service said the temperatures for Monday are predicted to be around 112 degrees and really not much cooler by race time.

The racers will spend a day traversing Death Valley before gradually ascending into the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The starting point for this event starts at the lowest point in the continental United States at 282 feet below sea level and the non-stop two-day affair will rise slowly to the altitude of 8,300 feet above sea level, finishing in Lone Pine, California at the Whitney Portal.

Veteran runner Jodi Weis said the toughest part for her last year was Panamint Springs.

“You are running all night and it is considerably cooler and then suddenly you’re right in the heat of the day,” she said. “The heat really takes a lot out of your body.”

The course covers three mountain ranges, for a total of 14,600 feet of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100 of cumulative descent.

According to race organizer AdventureCORPS, the race features 51 Badwater veterans and 46 rookies, die-hard “ultra-runners” of every speed and ability. The runners represent 21 countries by citizenship or residence: Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States (with 27 different American states represented).

There are 25 women and 72 men. The youngest male runner is 25 (rookie entrant Sam Weir of Australia) and the youngest female entrant is 29 (rookie entrant Kayla Delk of the USA). The oldest male is 69 (five-time finisher Mark K. Olson of California) and the oldest female is 60 (rookie entrant Pamela Chapman-Markle of Texas). The overall average age is 46.

Last year’s men’s champion, 25-year-old Pete Kostelnick of Nebraska returns to defend against an extremely competitive field. He will face veteran contenders such as 2014 champion Harvey Lewis of Ohio, 2013 men’s champion Carlos Sa of Portugal, 2011 men’s champion Oswaldo Lopez of Madera, California (Mexico citizenship) and two-time men’s runner-up Grant Maughan of Australia.

The women’s field, with 25 entrants, includes 12 rookies and 13 veterans. Notable contenders include the 2015 women’s champion, Nikki Wynd of Australia, 2014 women’s champion, Alyson Venti of Barbados, veteran Brenda Guajardo, who is a three-time winner of the Nove Colli ultramarathon in Italy, 2016 Brazil 135+ women’s champion Sada Crawford of Cayman Islands, and others.

The men’s course record is held by Valmir Nunez of Brazil with a time of 22:51:29 set in 2007, while the women’s course record of 26:16:12 was set in 2010 by Jamie Donaldson of Littleton, Colorado.

There is no prize money of any kind for the winners, just honor and a belt buckle.

Those interested in live coverage of the event can go to the 2016 webcast at:

http://www.badwater.com/2016-styr-labs-badwater-135-webcast.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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