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2017 Badwater 135 Application Process Underway

Badwater 135 Ultramarathon Buckle TM - 2014 - Run It Fast

Furnace Creek, CA – AdventureCORPS®, Inc., hosts of the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon, is currently accepting applications for this year’s race, scheduled for July 10-12, 2017, until February 9. Now in its 40th year and recognized globally as “the world’s toughest foot race,” this iconic race pits up to 100 of the world’s toughest athletes – runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers – against one another and the elements.

The race starts at Badwater Basin within Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in North America at 280 feet (85m) below sea level, and the location officially recognized as the hottest spot on earth (hitting 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913). From that auspicious start line, the course covers 135 miles (217km) non-stop over the most epic terrain imaginable. including traversing three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600 feet (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100 feet (1859m) of cumulative descent. The race finishes at the end of the road high on Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Lower 48, making it the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. For those who finish in less than 48 hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater 135 belt buckle. (See attached.) There is no prize money.

With a field limit of 100 runners, the Badwater 135 is, and always has been, an invitational race. Applicants must meet rigorous qualifying standards prior to submitting an application, which is then reviewed and scored by a committee. For rookie entrants, minimum requirements include three 100-mile race finishes or a completion of the Brazil 135, plus submitting an extensive application with running resumé, details of charitable efforts, along with answering a variety of questions ranging from “What percentage of your athletic peers would say that you are a good human being?” to “What is the meaning of life?” More information is here: http://www.badwater.com/event/badwater-135/#tab-entry The actual application is here: https://www.runreg.com/bw135

Based on past participation, it is anticipated that the 2017 field will include runners from 20 to 25 American states and represent 20 to 25 countries or nationalities. The 100 world-class athletes selected for the 2017 race will be announced via Facebook Live on February 9.

AdventureCORPS greatly appreciates the support of STYR Labs, Caring House Project Foundation, Farm To Feet Socks, Fisher Space Pen, ZZYXXZ, Nathan Performance Gear, and ZombieRunner.com, plus the local support of Furnace Creek Ranch, Stovepipe Wells Resort, Panamint Springs Resort, Dow Villa, Pizza Factory, the community of Lone Pine, CA, the people of Inyo County, and other generous companies and individuals. More info: http://www.badwater.com/about-us/sponsors/

Official Charities of the Badwater 135 include the Challenged Athletes Foundation. As one of the very few charities that provides grants directly to athletes with a physical disability, the Challenged Athletes Foundation has raised over seventy-six million dollars and directly assisted thousands of challenged athletes world-wide and in all 50 US states.

AdventureCORPS also supports the Bald Head Island Conservancy, Conservation Alliance, and One Percent For The Planet, among others. One of the goals of the Badwater 135 is to raise funds for, and awareness of, these organizations, along with minimizing and mitigating environmental impact. More info: http://www.badwater.com/about-us/charities/ and http://www.badwater.com/about-us/environment/

The event is held under special use permits from Death Valley National Park, California Department of Transportation, Inyo National Forest, and Inyo County.

Additional Badwater events this year include:

50km and 51-mile Badwater Cape Fear on March 18

NOTE: Nearly sold out!

Webpage: http://www.badwater.com/event/badwater-cape-fear/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1582342162078045/

81-mile Badwater Salton Sea on April 30 – May 1

NOTE: Half sold out!

Webpage: http://www.badwater.com/event/badwater-salton-sea/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/512279092291970/

Posted in Badwater 1350 Comments

pete-kostlenick-tc

Pete Kostelnick Breaks Trans-Con USA Record

pete-kostlenick-tc

Nebraska native Pete Kostelnick moments ago broke the record for the Fastest Trans-Con Run Across the United States of America. He finished the 3,100 mile journey in 42 days, 6 hours, 34 minutes.

His first words upon finishing, “I’m not running back!”

Pete broke Frank Giannino Jr’s record of 46 days 8 hr 36 min that Frank set 36 years ago almost to the day.

Dozens ran the last few miles with him to New  York City’s City Hall steps with his wife doing the steps to the top, arm in arm, with Pete.

He averaged about 73 miles per day during his journey.

Pete is the defending 2x Badwater 135 champion. He set the course record at Badwater back in July.

You can follow Pete on Twitter @PeteKostelnick.

Congrats, Pete.

 

Posted in Badwater 135, Records, Running, Ultra Marathon0 Comments

Badwater 135 – 2016 Stry Labs Badwater 135

39th Badwater 135 Set to Start July 18th

Badwater 135 - 2016 Stry Labs Badwater 135

THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST FOOT RACE CELEBRATES 39th ANNIVERSARY OF ICONIC ROUTE FROM DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK TO MOUNT WHITNEY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Read this Online / Download the Race Magazine / Download the 5-page Press Kit)

Death Valley, CA:  On July 18-20, AdventureCORPS presents its legendary STYR Labs BADWATER® 135. Now in its 39th year, the world-renowned event pits up to 100 of the world’s toughest athletes against one another and the elements. In scorching temperatures and at altitudes as high as 8,300 feet, runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers from 21 countries and 27 American states will face off in a grueling 135-mile non-stop run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. Widely recognized as “the world’s toughest foot race, “ it is the most demanding and extreme running race on the planet.

The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m). The course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Panamint Springs, Keeler, Alabama Hills, and Lone Pine.

A true “challenge of the champions,” the 2016 STYR Labs Badwater 135 features 51 Badwater veterans and 46 rookies: die hard “ultra-runners” of every speed and ability, as well as athletes who have the necessary running credentials, but are primarily known for their exploits as adventure racers, mountaineers, triathletes, or in other extreme pursuits. With one of the most international fields in race history, the athletes represent twenty-one 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 United States of America (with 27 different American states represented).

While runners began running the course in the 1970s, the race itself has been part of the fabric of life in Inyo County since 1987. A recent study indicated an annual economic impact of 1.2 million dollars, half of it spent in Death Valley National Park and surrounding gateway communities such as Lone Pine, CA. The race is supported by U.S. Congressman Col. Paul Cook (Ret.) of California’s 8th District, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, and a wide panorama of businesses and charities which are positively impacted.

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. Full roster details are available here: http://dbase.adventurecorps.com/roster.php?bw_eid=78&bw=Go

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, CO. It is expected that the winners of the 2016 STYR Labs Badwater 135 will finish in near record time for both men’s and women’s divisions. The average finishing time is approximately 40 hours, while the overall time limit is 48 hours. For those who finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater 135 belt buckle. There is no prize money.

The 2016 race field is particularly competitive. Veteran contenders include 2015 men’s champion Pete Kostelnick of Nebraska, 2014 champion Harvey Lewis of Ohio, 2013 men’s champion Carlos Sa of Portugal, 2011 men’s champion Oswaldo Lopez of Madera, CA (Mexico citizenship), two-time men’s runner-up Grant Maughan of Australia, and other notable contenders such as Marathon des Sables champion Mohamad Ahansal of Morocco, Grand Union Canal champion Dan Lawson of the UK, 2016 Badwater Cape Fear and 2016 Badwater Salton Sea champion Jared Fetterolf of Texas, among others. Also competing is Marshall Ulrich, 65, of Evergreen, CO, a twenty-time Badwater 135 finisher and four-time winner in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996, along with David Jones, 64, of Murfreesboro, TN, the 1997 Badwater 135 race champion, seven-time finisher, and 60+ age group record holder. For a  full preview of the top men’s field, click http://www.zwittyultra.com/remember-you-paid-to-be-in-this-race-daves-blog/2016-styr-labs-badwater-135-mens-preview

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, Badwater 135 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. For a full preview of the top women’s field, click http://www.zwittyultra.com/remember-you-paid-to-be-in-this-race-daves-blog/2016-styr-labs-badwater-135-womens-race-preview

Every year is a new year at the Badwater 135, with rookies and “previously unknown” athletes surprising the contenders with top performances. New stars will shine as the race unfolds.

The STYR Labs Badwater 135 is the final event in the Badwater® Ultra Cup, a three-race series which began with the 51-mile Badwater® Cape Fear in March, continued with the 81-mile Badwater® Salton Sea in May, and now concludes with the STYR Labs Badwater 135 in July. Those runners who complete all three events in the same calendar year are featured on the Badwater.com website and their virtues are extolled throughout the Internet and in future editions of BADWATER Magazine. In 2014, seven remarkable athletes completed the entire Badwater Ultra Cup, nine completed the 2015 BadwaterUltra Cup, while seventeen racers completed the first two Badwater races this year and will toe the line at the third and final Badwater race on July 18.

Now in its seventeenth year producing this race, AdventureCORPS is pleased to welcome our title sponsor, STYR Labs – an innovative nutrition customization and tracking platform delivering cutting-edge supplements to connected athletes and health and fitness consumers worldwide. The advanced ecosystem includes an activity tracker, wireless scale, and free app that collects health and fitness data to create personalized multivitamins or protein blends specific to the user’s health and fitness goals and needs. Sergio Radovcic, founder of STYR Labs, is no stranger to this race with three consecutiveBadwater 135 finishes. More info at www.styr.com

AdventureCORPS  also greatly appreciates the support of Farm to Feet Socks, Fisher Space Pen, Caring House Project Foundation, ZZYXXZ, and ZombieRunner.com, plus the local support of Furnace Creek Ranch, Stovepipe Wells Resort, Panamint Springs Resort, Dow Villa, Pizza Factory, the community of Lone Pine, CA, the people of Inyo County, and other generous companies and individuals. More info: www.badwater.com/about-us/sponsors/

Official Charities of the Badwater 135 include the Challenged Athletes Foundation. As one of the very few charities that provides grants directly to athletes with a physical disability, the Challenged Athletes Foundation has raised over thirty million dollars and directly assisted thousands of challenged athletes world-wide. AdventureCORPS also supports the Bald Head Island Conservancy, Death Valley Natural History Association, Conservation Alliance, and One Percent For The Planet. One of the goals of the Badwater 135 is to raise funds for, and awareness of, these organizations. More info: www.badwater.com/about-us/charities/

This year, over 50 of the race entrants are competing on behalf of a charity of their choice. Some of those include 100 Mile Club, Break the Stigma Project, Caring House Project Foundation, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Death Valley Natural History Association, Homes for our Troops, Hope So Bright, The Herren Project, and others.

This year’s race celebrates the 39th anniversary of Al Arnold’s original trek from Badwater to Mt. Whitney in 1977. Arnold, an ultrarunning pioneer and human potential guru, competed in a solo effort: it was just Arnold and his support crew against the elements and the clock. The official head-to-head race began ten years after Arnold’s pioneer trek, in 1987, and has been held annually without serious incident, fatality, or any citations issued by any branch of law enforcement. For more info about Al Arnold and also the original race click these links:

1977 Al Arnold: http://www.badwater.com/blog/category/al-arnolds-insights/

1987 Race: http://www.badwater.com/blog/1987-the-year-badwater-became-a-race/

PRESS CREDENTIALS, IMAGE GALLERY, and PERMITS

Download the 5-Page Press Kit and Media Credential Application here:

http://www.badwater.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2016presskit.pdf

A stock image gallery – for bona fide media use only – may be accessed at the following link, with Photographer Name / Badwater.com attribution required: www.flickr.com/photos/chriskostman/sets/72157654693333871

The Badwater 135 is held under permits from Death Valley National Park, California Department of Transportation, Inyo National Forest, and Inyo County. Media attending the event may be required to obtain permits from some of those same agencies.

FOLLOWING THE STYR LABS BADWATER 135 ONLINE

Follow the 2016 webcast at:

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

Follow the 2016 time splits and results at:

http://dbase.adventurecorps.com/results.php?bw_eid=78&bwr=Go

Follow the race on Twitter (Join the conversation by adding hashtag #Badwater135 to all your tweets about the race.):

http://twitter.com/badwater

Follow the race staff’s live photostream on Instagram (Contribute to the photostream by adding hashtag #Badwater135 to all your IG images about the race.):

http://instagram.com/badwaterHQ

Follow the race director’s live photostream on Instagram:

http://instagram.com/chriskostman

Follow the race staff’s photostream archive on Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventurecorps/

Follow the race director’s photostream archive on Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chriskostman/

Join the Facebook conversation:

http://www.facebook.com/badwater135

Download the July 2016 issue of BADWATER Magazine:

http://www.adventurecorps.com/downloads/bw/2016July.pdf

ABOUT ADVENTURECORPS

Oak Park, CA-based AdventureCORPS®, Inc. is an athlete-run firm producing and promoting ultra-endurance sports events and the world’s toughest brand, BADWATER®. Adventure is our way of life. AdventureCORPS’ world-class events for athlete-adventurers include epic races such as the Badwater® 135, BADWATER® Salton Sea, BADWATER® Cape Fear, and Silver State 508™, and other events. Our products include the Badwater® line of apparel, skin care products, gear, and services. Founded in 1984 by Chris Kostman, this group effort is dedicated to exploring the inner and outer universes, seeking adventure, energy, and insight both in daily life and “out there.” More info: www.adventurecorps.com and www.badwater.com.

Badwater® is a federally registered trademark owned by AdventureCORPS, Inc.

Posted in Badwater 135, Ultra Marathon0 Comments

Harvey Lewis 2014 Badwater 135 Winner – Run It Fast

Harvey Lewis Wins 2014 Badwater 135 Ultramarathon (Results)

Cincinnati native Harvey Lewis won the ‘World’s Toughest’ Badwater 135 mile ultramarathon on July 22, 2014 in Lone Pine, California. Lewis finished the challenging ‘new’ course in a time of 23:52:55.

It was Lewis’ 4th consecutive Badwater 135 finish and fastest to date.

Grant Maughan was the runner-up for the second year in a row with a time of 24:43:08. Third place went to last year’s winner Carlos Sa in 26:19:03.

Alyson Venti, of Miami, Florida, was the first female to finish with a time of 28:37:28. Second female was the legendary Pam Reed in 29:30:04 and third place female went to Australia’s Nikki Wynd in 29:44:33.

Badwater 135 Results

Full Results

Congrats to all of the starters and finishers of the 2014 Badwater 135.

[photo: Adventurecorps]

Posted in Badwater 135, Running, Ultra Marathon0 Comments

Badwater Race Director: Death Valley National Park “Grossly Exaggerating the Safety Issue…Smearing Reputation of Badwater 135″

Badwater Race Director: Death Valley National Park “Grossly Exaggerating the Safety Issue…Smearing Reputation of Badwater 135″

AdventureCORPS Chief Adventure Officer (CAO) and Badwater 135 race director Chris Kostman sent a very detailed email to Run It Fast® this morning.

In it, he responds to the ban by Death Valley National Park on Badwater 135 and all endurance related races within the park that require a permit. He believes, “..the DVNP staff are grossly exaggerating the safety issue, and, in so doing, they are smearing the reputation of the Badwater 135 and other events, perhaps to build a case for severely restricting, if not banning, some or all events from being held in the Park.”

You might remember back in December, the park ceased issuing permits for endurance races with little to no explanation as to why. It led us to speculate as to those reasons due to the extreme lack of transparency from DVNP (Read HERE).

Death Valley National Park superintendent Kathy Billings responded to our post with a long winded letter that stated that her decision to suspend events within the park was so that a ‘safety assessment’ could be conducted (Read HERE). Billings in her letter claimed that, “multiple near misses between event participants and park visitors were observed.”

As you can read below, Kostman adamantly doesn’t buy the parks stated reason/excuse claiming that DVNP’s decision was due to safety concerns. Kostman clearly details that Badwater 135, in 26 years, has never had a participant hit or injured by a car and that no accidents have taken place within the park during any of his races. Safety to Kostman and AdventureCORPS has always been a priority.  He then goes on to state that the random deaths that have happened within the park, happened outside of any race, and involved tourists and a park ranger but never an athlete in an event.

Kostman details how AdventureCORPS has always put safety first in hosting their events and that they hold themselves to a much higher standard than DVNP or anyone else ever could. Safety has always been a priority to them and that AdventureCORPS flawless record to date affirms that.

Read Kostman’s email to Run It Fast regarding Death Valley National Park’s ‘Safety Claims’ below in it’s entirety:

The Death Valley National Park staff can “play the safety card” all they want, but they are not the only people concerned with the safety of the event, in fact, far from it. As the organizers of the Badwater 135 and four other events normally held annually within DVNP, we are particularly and necessarily concerned with the safety of both event participants and the public at large. Additionally, a meeting with DVNP staff in December included representatives of both Inyo County and the California Highway Patrol who spoke on behalf of the safety record of the events and lobbied for the events to be held in 2014 and beyond. In our opinion, the DVNP staff are grossly exaggerating the safety issue, and, in so doing, they are smearing the reputation of the Badwater 135 and other events, perhaps to build a case for severely restricting, if not banning, some or all events from being held in the Park.

The DVNP staff can claim “near misses” on the highway between cars and pedestrians all they want, but where is the proof? The facts of the matter are simple and irrefutable: In the 26 history of the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon, not one event participant, supporter, or bystander has ever been struck by a car, nor have there been any car crashes other than one family member – not an active crew member – who simply drove off the road in 2012, perhaps because of a medical condition. Not one event participant, supporter, or bystander has been evacuated by ambulance. Not one event participant, supporter, or bystander has been issued a citation by DVNP Rangers, California Highway Patrol, or Inyo County Sheriff’s deputies in association with the event. DVNP statements to the press about “mass casualties” and “dead bodies” would seem to incite fear and overstate dangers. After all, in 2014, who can question anything about “safety”?

Meanwhile, three to four people die within Death Valley National Park every year, most recently an NPS employee who was working alone on the little-used and unpaved Westside Road during a heat wave with, according to those in the know, no functional radio and only minimal supplies. He died a tragic death of heat stroke after walking 4.6 miles, in vain, in search of help.

There have been no deaths associated with any sports event held within the Park, ever. (Contrarily, there have been deaths during sporting events in other Parks, but said events were not stopped.)

Special Event Permits have been issued to our organization 89 times over the past 24 years by Death Valley National Park without incident and without refusal, until now. Similarly, nearly all of the events also require permits from the California Department of Transportation, Inyo County, and/or United States Forest Service. Presumably all those government agencies are similarly concerned about any safety impacts that the events may present, yet none of those agencies has refused to issue permits or placed a “moratorium” on issuing permits. None of those agencies is casting aspersions on the reputations of the events, nor denying the opportunity for athletes to come from all over the world to enjoy this Park and pump money into the Park and the local economy.

In our December meeting with DVNP staff, we presented an eight-page proposal to further enhance the safety of the Badwater 135, a plan that clearly answers every issue brought up DVNP in their assessment of the July, 2013 event. While pointing out the impeccable safety record of the event, we explained that we are our own biggest critics and we hold our events up to the highest standards. We proposed effective, reasonable mitigation measures which will further enhance the event’s safety record and we requested the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of these efforts during the July, 2014 edition of the event. We were refused, with no rationale given whatsoever. In fact, in all our correspondence and communication with the DVNP staff, and in everything we have read online and in the press, we have seen absolutely no rational explanation offered for the unprecedented decision to ban the events in 2014 while this “safety review” unfolds. It begs the question: How does one review the safety of something which isn’t even happening?

One further wonders what purpose it serves, and how public safety is enhanced, to effectively ban the event when the event will still be held in the very same county, on some of the very same roads, except outside DVNP jurisdiction? There will be no net change in overall event safety, nor public safety, by simply moving the event outside Park borders.

During the December meeting with DVNP, it was pointed out that the Park’s disallowing of the Badwater 135 in the summer of 2014 will simply cause dozens, perhaps scores, perhaps hundreds, of runners and their support crews to simply run the traditional route from Badwater in Death Valley to Mt. Whitney on their own, outside of an actual event. “It’s a free country,” after all, and the roads are open to the public, yet those types of “solo” runners will not be vetted for their worthiness to attempt such a feat, they will not be monitored by race officials and controlled by race rules and the possibility of time penalties or disqualification, they will not have a 15-person medical team with an ambulance on standby in case of emergency, they will not have any rules or guidelines limiting the number of support crew members and the number, size, and type of support vehicles.

In response to explaining how the “law of unintended consequences” would have the effect of unleashing these unregulated runners onto the roads within the Park, the Chief Ranger for DVNP stated “We are not their parent.” All of the DVNP staff in attendance showed no concern whatsoever for the potential for their staffing and resources being stretched thin while runners challenge the Badwater 135 race course all summer long with no oversight. They showed no concern for the potential for all these unsanctioned runners to impact public safety, even though they claimed that public safety was their primary concern in undertaking their “safety review” and banning the events in the interim.

In regards to cycling events, during the December meeting, DVNP staff, the Park Superintendent in particular, complained about the difficulty of passing bicyclists on the roadway, without changing lanes, during those occasional stretches of DVNP roadways that have double yellow stripes down the center of the road. This is the exact same type of complaint leveled at bicycle users by anti-bike and anti-pedestrian motorists all over America, with the implication being, quite falsely, that roads are intended for motor vehicles, that motorists have superior rights to use of the roads, that motorists have a right to never be inconvenienced nor forced to slow down. While this type of anti-bike bias is still all too common in America, the tide has turned in city after city, county after county, state after state, as government agencies realize that bicycling plays an important, crucial role in the wars on obesity, traffic jams, and pollution. Increasing the roadshare by bicyclists has become a priority for government agencies across America, including the National Park Service, which promotes bicycling as a way to enjoy and travel through Parks.

As for DVNP denying that events are not being “banned” in 2014, and that our statement to that effect is “erroneous” they are playing semantics. The fact of the matter is, one marathon will be held on February 1, but only because the organizers already had their permit in place before the ban went into effect. Other than that, the ban means that the following events will not take place during the “safety review” period, nor for many months afterward:

Feb 24-27
CORPScamp Death Valley
A five-day cycling camp based in Furnace Creek with about 50 participants who typically come from 12-15 states and several foreign countries. It has been held since 2008 without incident and was not “reviewed,” per se, during any recent edition, thus its potential impact, if any, has not be assessed.

March 1
Death Valley Century, Ultra Century, and Double Century – Spring edition
A one-day 100-mile, 150-mile, and 200-mile bicycle ride with about 300 participants who typically come from 15-20 states and several foreign countries. It has been held twice a year since 1990 without incident. Its sister event, a Fall edition held on the last weekend of October, was reviewed by two DVNP staff members: Safety Officer Peter Treuherz and Law Enforcement Ranger Jordan Mammil. Treuherz’s report has not been seen, but he was overwhelmingly favorable about the event in conversation that day, with only a few small constructive suggestions to make. Mammil’s report is entirely favorable towards the events. She stated, among other things, the following:

“In my opinion, the Century Bicycle Ride is a highly organized event drawing a diverse set of visitors.  These visitors are able to enjoy the park in a very unique manner.  The event essentially has no impact on the park, the visitors, or any of its resources.  It is a nice way to bring revenue to adjacent businesses, and attract cyclist and their supporters to the area.”

“It appears that the event does not need monitoring.  There is very little chance of disturbance to other visitors, and this event leaves very little, if any impact.  The participants are other outdoor enthusiasts, sharing the joy of seeing a large section of the park with essentially no carbon footprint.  In my mind, the park should do whatever it can to encourage and support such events.”

In late December, we received a letter from Park Superintendent Billings detailing a few minor criticisms or observations of this cycling event, and the tone and content of her letter was entirely negative. Granted, any event can be made safer, and a few “bad apples” will occasionally disregard event rules, but the event has an unblemished record and was enthusiastically endorsed by a law enforcement professional with many years of experience working on the open roads of multiple National Parks. Yet no mention of Ranger Mammil’s positive report regarding the event was made. No opportunity to host the March 1 edition was offered.

July 21-13
Badwater 135 Ultramarathon
Drawing up to 100 runners and their support crews from 20 or more countries and 20 or more American states, along with race support staff and the media and eyes of the world, this iconic event will take place on a Lone Pine, CA-based route just outside of DVNP boundaries. Still named “Badwater 135,” it will not begin at its namesake, Badwater, because of the DVNP ban on events in 2014. http://www.badwater.com/route/

October and Beyond:
DVNP finally posted their statement about the 2014 ban on their website on Christmas eve, 2013. In it, they stated, in part:

The safety assessment process is expected to be completed by Summer, 2014. The safety assessment report will include safety mitigations, specific park approval criteria and condition recommendations for sporting events within Death Valley National Park.

Based on the projected date for completion of the safety assessment, applications may be submitted for events that are scheduled from October 1, 2014 and beyond. The park will begin processing those applications when the safety review is completed. Findings from the risk assessment may require new conditions that will be required of all event coordinators to meet permit requirements and/or that some events may not be allowed in certain areas or permitted in the future if safety risks cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level.

Also:
Due to the complexity of the process, it can take several months to process a special use application and applicants are encourage to get their requests in early.

A quick read of the DVNP statement would suggest that it will be possible for special events to take place in October, 2014, but that is effectively impossible. This is because they have not set a firm deadline for completing their “safety review” and finalizing their new guidelines. They only state “by Summer, 2014,” however Summer does not end until September 23. They also stated, during the December meeting, to not expect resolution until the end of their fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

Their online statement also states that, though permit applications may be submitted at any time, they will not review them until their internal process is complete. As such, there is little logic in applying to host special events until all the details, new regulations, and new restrictions are known. Additionally, a full field of athletes, a full event staff and cadre of volunteers, and all the operational details that are needed to host and produce an event do not just fall out of the clear blue sky; they take time, usually 6 to 12 months on average, to pull together. Therefore, the inference by DVNP that sporting events could take place in October of this year is erroneous and misleading at best. This ban therefore impacts multiple events which might have been held in October, but which are also effectively banned by DVNP this year:

The Whitney Classic charity ride from Badwater to Mt. Whitney, held annually since the 1980s, will not be able to take place on its traditional last weekend of September. (Not an AdventureCORPS event.) http://www.summitadventure.com/whitney-classic/

Furnace Creek 508, a 508-mile cycling event held annually on the first weekend of October which has passed through DVNP since 1989, will have to be moved in its entirety to another state, rather than held this year on its traditional route. It averages 250 cyclists, riding solo or on two- or four-person relay teams, who come from all over the world to compete in what is known as “the toughest 48 hours in sport.” http://www.the508.com

The Ride to Cure Diabetes, held by and on behalf of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, raising over one million dollars annually for this cause, will not likely be held on its traditional date on the third weekend of October. (Not an AdventureCORPS event.) http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Ride/JDRFNationalRides?pg=entry&fr_id=2246

The Fall edition of the Death Valley Century, Ultra Century, and Double Century will not be held on its traditional date on the last weekend of October.

I’m not clear how, or if, the 49ers Encampment, traditionally held in early November, will be impacted by the DVNP ban, but it must have implications for their event as well. Their event is not a sports event, but its size and scope, which far exceeds that of any of the sporting events, certainly have some impact on traffic and Park safety.

I will conclude by pointing out that DVNP spokesperson, Cheryl Chipman, has stated (perhaps “complained” is more accurate) that “the park doesn’t directly make money on such events, with permits costing $210 each. She said organizers cover the cost of a park employee required to monitor events,” according to the LA Times:http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-death-valley-badwater-race-permits-20131226,0,156333.story#ixzz2pkNbxFwR

This statement deliberately ignores many facts and positive economic impacts which the Badwater 135, and other events, bring to Death Valley National Park, including:

– The entire Stovepipe Wells Resort, including the motel, restaurant, bar, two stores, and gas station, are owned by the National Park Service and these events bring a tremendous amount of money to the location, which is at mile 42 of the Badwater 135 route. The general manager, David MacIlwraith, has stated “race day is one of our largest revenue days for the year for the General Store.”

– Event participants, staff, support crews, family, and friends all spend money in the gift shops operated by Death Valley Natural History Association, an organization which is based in and directly support the Park, its mission, and its operations.

– Many event participants support the Death Valley Natural History Association. In fact, AdventureCORPS has raised or donated over $19,000 to DVNHA in recent years and there are five plaques in the Death Valley National Park Visitors Center which acknowledge AdventureCORPS / Badwater 135 / Furnace Creek 508 support.

– One hundred percent of Park Entry Fees are paid by or on behalf of every participant in evert event. Meanwhile, traditional Park visitors are expected to voluntarily pay the Park entrance fee at a self-serve kiosk or by stopping in the Visitors Center. There are no toll booths on the highways or at Park borders as at Yosemite, Glacier, and other National Parks, because DVNP does not actually control Highway 190, the thoroughfare which passes through the Park. Thus, sport event participants all pay their way, while many other Park visitors ignore the entrance fee requirement.

– Participants in Death Valley sporting events become tireless Park Advocates because of their intimate experience of, and appreciation for, this dramatic landscape and American treasure. They tell their friends about the Park, post widely on the Internet about their experience, support the Death Valley Natural History Association, and become regular visitors. In a time of dwindling government funding for the National Park Service, our athletes are exactly the kind of people that the NPS desperately needs spending money within the Parks and extolling their critical importance to their neighbors and their House Representatives, Senators, and other government officials. Why slam the door on the best people the Parks have in their court?

All told, the impact of this 2014 Death Valley National Park ban on sporting events is absolutely massive, with reverberations across the globe, but especially within the Park itself and the gateway communities which depend on tourism dollars. The ban is also unprecedented and unnecessary, hurting the Park far more than it is helping it.

Yours in sport,
Chris Kostman,
Chief Adventure Officer and Race Director
AdventureCORPS, Inc.

So there you have it! Kostman does a strong job of clearly stating that AdventureCORPS has always put a priority on safety. He goes into detail about races within the park and what they bring to the community in terms of revenue and tourism.

RELATED – Death Valley National Park – Badwater Stories on Run It Fast:

We are hoping that DVNP will quickly reverse it’s decision and once again start granting permits to Badwater 135 and all the rest of the great running and cycling events that happen every year in the park.

Badwater 135 is an international event that brings the best athletes in the world to Death Valley National Park and the best out of the human spirit in those that come to run, crew, cheer, and witness what the human body can accomplish within the beautiful landscape of DVNP.  The park and race officials had enjoyed a great working relationship for three decades before Billings came into power this past year.

We hope common sense will win out with Billings, that all of the races in DVNP will once again resume, and that DVNP and race directors alike can work TOGETHER to ensure safety for all involved in these great events that bring lots of attention and revenue to the area.

Posted in Badwater 135, Running, Ultra Marathon0 Comments



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