The World’s Toughest Foot Race

Could you run several miles through Death Valley in July?

Badwater Marathon

EXTREME INDEED: There was a day not so long ago when the sub-category of "extreme sports" was just that: a sub-category. Maybe a particular sport featured huge bike jumps or daring skateboard stunts, but pairing considerable athletic ability with an unusual environment was less seen. But nowadays, of course, extreme sports has spun off its own sub-categories, and serious athleticism plus an interesting setting has become more common. And pretty much everything in that last category can look to the Badwater Ultramarathon, which turns 35 in 2012, as a forebearer. You've likely heard of it if you follow extreme sports or offbeat national park happenings: It is the very, very long Death Valley-based run that is always scheduled for July. How long is it? Try 135 miles long. How hot will it be? The highs for this year's race days, which are July 16-18, will run between 109 degrees and 116, says the forecast.

WHICH MEANS: Only "the world's toughest athletes" sign up for what is billed as "the world's toughest foot race." The ultramarathon stretches from the below sea level Death Valley to Mt. Whitney. If you know the area at all, you know that is a considerable distance with a lot of elevation variation and its own set of obstacles and rules. So we wish those tough-as-hot-asphalt runners the best of luck and vow to keep up with the latest photos and Twitter. We want to see just how one of California's, and maybe the planet's, most talked-about races goes. Three words are important here, of course: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Heck, we want to go hydrate right now, just thinking about the Badwater. Where's our water glass?

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