After 35 years, a Pinoy Ultrarunner was invited and successfully finished the Badwater 135-Mile (217 Kilometers) Ultramarathon Race which is globally recognized as “the world’s toughest foot race” where 90-100 of the world’s toughest athletes—runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers, are invited to compete against each other and to survive the elements, elevation and extreme hot temperature of the Death Valley Desert in California, USA.
Badwater Ultramarathon, simply known as “Badwater 135” is a “by invitation only” race where a five-member committee selects 100 of the best endurance/ adventure athletes worldwide to compete in this event. This race is considered as “the holy grail of running” due to the extreme conditions of the route and the environment. For the first time in its race history, Philippines’ Flag/Colors will be displayed on its official website and function areas due to the successful finish of a Pinoy Ultrarunner.
Benjamin Gaetos of Eagle Rock, California finished the race in 44 hours 8 minutes 7 seconds after starting from Badwater, Death Valley, which marks as the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere at 280 feet below sea level, on a non-stop run to the Finish Line at the Mt Whitney Portals with an elevation of nearly 8,300 feet above sea level. Popularly known as “Ben Gaetos” among ultrarunners, he endured the hot temperature reaching up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and the course cumulative vertical ascent of 13,000 feet that covers three mountain ranges in the Death Valley Desert and a cumulative descent of 4,700 feet. The race was held last July 15-17, 2013 and it usually starts on the third Monday of July every year, few weeks after the start of Summer Season in the United States!
He finished with a ranking of 64th Finisher out of the 81 runners who crossed the Finished Line within the prescribed cut-off time of 48 hours. For the past editions of the race up to 2010, the cut-off time was established at 60 hours. But due to the distance, elevation, and the extreme hot temperature of the course, even the best and toughest ultrarunners would succumbed to dehydration and foot blisters. With a reduced cut-off time, more pressure was on the shoulder of each of the participants. Fifteen runners declared themselves as Did Not Finish (DNF) in this year’s edition.