Kenneth A. Posner
© 2014 42K(+) Press, Inc.
In 1977, Al Arnold became the first person to run the 146 miles from the Badwater Basin in Death Valley (which, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere) to the summit of Mount Whitney (which, at 14,505 feet, is the highest point in the continental USA). In 1989, Tom Crawford and Rich Benyo conceived the idea of doubling this feat and became the first people to complete the 292-mile round trip, which is referred to as a “double” (Benyo 1991). In 2001, Marshall Ulrich set a record for the double of 96:07 as part of his celebrated “quad” crossing (Ulrich 2004). I set out on July 1, 2014, with the goal of completing the double and—if all went perfectly according to plan—of improving on the record. If successful, I would contribute in a small way to the tradition that Tom, Rich, and Marshall established of seeking out extreme challenge in the beautiful but unforgiving environment of Death Valley and the High Sierra—and then raising the bar.
After the experience was over, my crew and I identified several lessons learned that we thought might aid other Badwater runners in such areas as planning, crew leadership, pacing, nutrition, and footgear. We offer these ideas with the goal of inspiring others to take on the Badwater course and to further improve the times for single, double, and other crossings. But first, here’s what happened.
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