Next Monday, endurance athlete and Brooks ID member Anthony Portera will once again take on the impossible. Portera will be competing in his third Badwater 135 Ultramarathon. Billed as the world’s toughest foot race, competing in Badwater requires elite athletes to run 135 miles from the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, Death Valley (-285’ below sea level), to the portal of Mt. Whiney at 8,300’. Portera previously entered and finished Badwater in 2009 and 2010.
As he has endured twice before, Portera will experiencing temperatures of up to 130F, crossing three mountain ranges and will be battling the scorching sun, fierce winds and the occasional sand storm. To train for this Badwater, Portera spent up to 90 minutes at a time in the sauna for heat training, ran 100-120 miles a week and competed in several 50- and 100-mile ultramarathons to prepare his body and mind.
Like other competitors at Badwater, during much of the race Anthony will be wearing a white running suit to help reflect the searing sun and to attempt to stay cool during the warmest parts of the day. Support team members will also be regularly supplying him with ice water and will spray him down with water to help keep him cool.
I asked Anthony what he thought the hardest part of the Badwater was and this was his reply:
“From the distance, to the heat, to covering 3 mountain ranges, it is all an incredible challenge. But, for me, the heat always plays the biggest role in my performance, and this year I hope to go in with a plan to deal with it better than I have in the past.
In 2009 the heat destroyed me. Climbing Townes Pass, a nearly 17 mile, 5,000 foot climb, I literally passed out and fell backwards. Luckily my crew was there and caught me before I hit the ground. I came to covered in vomit, changed my shirt, and was on my way again.
In 2010 I went out too fast during the first 17 miles and then struggled when the temperatures hit the 120s. The pavement was hot enough to melt the soles of my shoes, leaving them flapping. So, it is basically everything….heat, distance, elevation, mental challenges….you name it….the hardest part of the race is whatever is beating me toward submission at the time.”
Anthony, everyone at Brooks wishes you the best of luck on Monday. Have a safe Badwater race and be sure to come back with stories! Despite the challenge, we hope you can still Run Happy!
2010 Badwater Recap Video