October 11, 2001
11:06 PM   Subscribe

How long would it take you to run 135 miles? In more than 120 degree heat? Up more than 8,000 feet in elevation? Every year some very determined people run the Badwater Ultramarathon from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney in California. It almost makes the Everest Marathon and Ironman Triathalons look easy.
posted by euphorb (12 comments total)
I've climbed Mt. Whitney (twice) from the parking lot. I was running marathons at the time, and the 25 mile roundtrip +/- 5000 vertical foot climb in a day still nearly killed me. I've also done the Death Valley marathon (in December when it's pleasant), and walked around badwater. I couldn't possibly imagine what kind of shape you must be in to do something like a Badwater to Whitney run.

This is possibly the most insane physical exertion event on earth.
posted by mathowie at 11:27 PM on October 11, 2001

It takes a madman/women to do anything like that.

Multisports races like the Southern Traverse, discovery channel's Eco-Challenge and the Coast to Coast seem sane in comparison.
posted by X-00 at 11:57 PM on October 11, 2001

I remember watching a show that said the mitochondria of the people who frequently enter these types of races is significantly prematurely aged. It's not beyond the capabilities of our bodies, obviously, but it's the kind of strain that led to much shorter lifetimes in the days of early humans. An interesting link here on the after effects of these races. I quote:

Is having the "Blues" after such an event for real or just a let down from being out of the limelight away from the reveling generated by a race environment? No, it is for real, comparable to having been dismembered, losing a body part. During the 7-day ultramarathon ordeal, an average runner's conservative macronutrient estimate expense is at least 15,000 calories, 9000 from body fat stores[nearly 2.5 pounds of body fat], 4500 calories from muscle and liver glycogen stores[1.33 pounds], and 1500 calories recruited from lean muscle mass amino acid pools[nearly 1/2 pound of muscle].

Apparently severe depression and hormonal imbalances are common afterward as well, lasting several months.

I still think it’s amazing that people can do it though. More power to them.
posted by Nothing at 1:19 AM on October 12, 2001

I grudgingly run two lousy miles every day. I don't feel snazzy and energized afterwards - I feel sweaty and mean. I can honestly say that a one-time run of 135 miles would take me the rest of my life.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:47 AM on October 12, 2001

endorphins and opiates - is it worth it?
regular exercise and eating promote oxygen free-radicals, as i understand it. these are what 'cause' aging.
so, if you want to live for the longest time possible a diet of 75% that reccomended for your body size and as small amount of exercise as is possible to survive on (like a budhist monk?)
posted by asok at 3:23 AM on October 12, 2001

The light that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast.
posted by stbalbach at 4:57 AM on October 12, 2001

Tyrell: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly Roy. Look at you. You're the prodigal son. You're quite a prize."
posted by gen at 5:38 AM on October 12, 2001

check out the tarahumara endurance runners (i saw this on tv the other day :)

Tales of tremendous running feats are attributed to the Tarahumaras [Raramuri], including running 70 miles a day, going 170 miles without stopping and running 500 miles carrying 40 pounds of mail.
posted by kliuless at 7:01 AM on October 12, 2001

I'm gonna stick with trying to finish the London Marathon this year.. That shouldn't be too bad, the rain should keep it cool :)
posted by Mossy at 7:09 AM on October 12, 2001

eww, those Indians are even more sickening.. the worst (?) I've ever tried was the Lyke Wake Walk, which is basically 50 miles in about 10 hours over the North Yorkshire Moors (horrid place, especially at night) - I reckon those injuns would do it in about 5, more power to them.. Unless they got stuck in that goddamn bracken :)
posted by Mossy at 7:17 AM on October 12, 2001

This reminds me of my favorite This American Life piece called Running After Antelope, about a theory of trying to hunt down game by chasing them.
posted by gwint at 7:57 AM on October 12, 2001

Check out this article, linked from the main site, for a very in-depth look at various people who run the race. Its a good read.
posted by thewittyname at 8:04 AM on October 12, 2001

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