Notes and References

  • “I run because”: Badwater AdventureCORPS, “2012: Badwater: I’m Running Badwater,” produced by Sasha Perry, online at YouTube, 2012.
  • “Yet another special treat”: Arthur Webb, “Mr. Bo Peep Runs Badwater,” online at Badwater, 2001.
  • “the most physically taxing competitive event”: Chris Kostman, “Medical Risks Associated with Badwater Ultramarathon,” online at Badwater, 2010.
  • a belt buckle: The coveted Badwater belt buckle displays three silhouetted peaks (one for each mountain range a runner must ascend) against a long sweep of parched ground so that altogether the whole thing looks like a flatlining EKG. Despite this, somehow in the race’s twenty- seven- year history no one has died.
  • its suicidal contenders: The original Badwater finish line used to be at the top of Mount Whitney; it’s now several thousand feet lower at the Whitney portal outside Lone Pine, California. Many runners, however, in the brutal spirit of the original race, still voluntarily run to the top of Whitney. Afterward some of them, for some reason, run 150 miles back to Badwater Basin in Death Valley, and some of them, still, after running back to Badwater Basin, turn and run back to the top of Mount Whitney, and some of them, after running back to the top of Mount Whitney, turn and run back to Badwater Basin. This last particular prodigious trial of suffering is known as a Badwater Quad, and the first person to run it — a distance greater than twenty-two consecutive marathons in ten days — was a man named Marshall Ulrich. He no longer has toenails.
  • “As we walked”: Dave Bursler, “Badwater 2006,” online at Run100s, 2006.
  • “things don’t have to be seen to be true”: Dave Bursler, “2008 Badwater Ultramarathon Crew Report,” online at Badwater, 2008.
  • “waterless desert”: Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, translated by Justin O’Brien, Vintage, 1991.
  • “Smoke was still rising”: Jack Denness, “Death Valley Hallucinations,” online at Badwater, July 29, 1999.
  • “It was still 114 degrees”: Barry Spitz, “Ross’ Karnazes Running in the Grueling Badwater Ultramarathon for the 10th Time,” online at UltraMarathonMan, 2012.
  • “I noticed a figure”: Ian Parker, “Ian Parker Running Biography,” online at Parker Lab: UC Irvine, 2012. In addition to Ian Parker, Arthur Webb (quoted above) also mentions hallucinating sheep, as does Kirk Johnson in his Badwater memoir, To the Edge: A Man, Death Valley, and the Mystery of Endurance, Grand Central Publishing, 2012.