Mega Run: Badwater Goes Salton Sea

Runners'll traverse 81 miles of desert over two days.

DRIVEN BY THE SALTON SEA? Then you know it, and the Anza-Borrego Desert to the west, have a quiet, big-sky'd vastness that seems to have arisen from a painter's brush or a poem about remote and epic spaces. You probably stick to your wheels, mostly, except to get out at vantage points and look across the water, or the scrubby hills, contemplating the earth and clouds and other Important Thoughts of Life. Have those Important Thoughts of Life, though, included what it might be like to hoof it over 81 miles, through the Anza-Borrego and to the crest of Palomar Mountain and along the shoreline of the Salton Sea? Maybe, maybe not. But that's just what several elite runners will do over the first Monday and Tuesday in May, when they tie on the running shoes and head out for a very warm -- very, very warm -- and memorable super-run through some of Southern California's most scenic wild places. It's Badwater Salton Sea

YEP... if you're thinking you've heard the term "Badwater" before, you have. It's a gorgeous and alien place in Death Valley, of course, where a summertime run, in a three-digit swelter, has challenged some of the top runners on the planet. The Salton Sea event isn't quite so middle-of-the-summer-y, but trust: legging it over 81 miles in two days is nothing to sniff at. The race begins in Salton City, which is 125 feet below sea level, and ends at Palomar Mountain, "almost the tallest mountain in San Diego County" (the finish line checks in at 5500 feet above sea level).

LOVE A GOOD RUNNING CHALLENGE? The Palm Springs Tram Road Challenge sends runners straight up, or nearly, for 3.7 miles of San Jacinto each autumn. That doesn't sound too hard, but picture climbing some 2000 feet in elevation. Yep. It's major.

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