On July 12, 2010 I drove to the lowest point in North America, Bad Water Basin in Death Valley National Park, CA. Not only is Badwater Basin 282 feet below sea level, but during the summer months it is one of the hottest places in North America. Each July, for the last 33 years, ultra marathoners having been have been running from Badwater Basin to the Whitney Portal a distance of 135 miles with over 8,000 feet of elevation gain. The temperatures reach 122 F during the race and physical and mental strength of the runners was truly an incredible testament to what humans are capable of.
I few days before the race I travelled to Colorado and met with Jamie Donaldson who has been the first place woman finisher for the last two years and also holds the women’s course record. She told me how she got into running and progressed to the Badwater Ultra. She was personable, upbeat and it was easy to see her in normal job as an elementary school teacher. At Badwater, she was still smiling and friendly, yet when you look into her eyes you could see the incredible focus it takes to complete such a race. She broke the women’s record again and finished third overall!!!
Stay tuned for video clips from the race which will be used as part of the Rising Up project – a documentary about the seven low points on each continent.