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Photo credit: ©Ron Jones / AdventureCORPS, Inc.

Graglia becomes first Italian to win Badwater 135 Ultramarathon


By Alice Morrison

Michele Graglia has taken the coveted first place at this year’s Badwater 135 Ultramarathon with a finishing time of 24:51:47. He is the first Italian ever to take the title and there was some pretty fine rejoicing from the Italian community.
This was from williamdaroit on Facebook: “VITTORIA!!!  🔥 🔥 🔥 Michele Graglia vince la Badwater Ultramarathon 2018! 217 km nella valle della morte in California!! Primo italiano nella storia, il suo nome non verrà mai più dimenticato! #lifestrong #ultrarunner”.

In English, “VICTORY!!! 🔥🔥🔥 Michele Graglia wins the Badwater Ultramarathon 2018! 217 km in the California Death Valley!! First Italian in history, his name will never be forgotten! #lifestrong #ultrarunner

Second man in was Jared Fetterolf with 25:33:42 and Don Reichelt took third with 27:08:30.
At time of writing, Brenda Guajardo was first woman and a brilliant sixth overall but hot on her heels was Pam Smith. Check out the full race results here

Badwater 135 Ultramarathon is one of the big beasts of ultra running. Up to 100 participants are invited to take part and this year it was 50 veterans and 49 rookies. The race is 41 years old and boasts a real span of challenges: roasting heat dropping to cold; below sea level to 2548m and three mountain ranges.

The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest point in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m).

Whitney Portal is the start to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest place in the contiguous United States. There is a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent.

It is the names on the trail that we particularly like: Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Panamint Springs, Keeler, Alabama Hills, and Lone Pine. It’s 135 miles long.

It was a strong field this year with 32 women – a record number – and 67 men running. The youngest runners were Ryan Montgomery (24) and and Kayla Delk (31). The oldest female starter was  62, Pamela Chapman-Markle, who is a  2016 and 2017 finisher and age group record and the oldest male was Mark K. Olson, 71, and seven-time finisher. Interestingly the overall average age is pretty high at 45.

The course records at the start stood at: 21:56:31 for the men set by Pete Kostelnick, and 25:53:07 for the women set by Alyson Venti (now Allen). The average finishing time is approximately 40 hours, while the overall time limit is 48 hours.

For those who finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater 135 belt buckle. There is no prize money.

The course was, as always, blisteringly hot and there were a lot of early DNFs. For many there are still over ten hours to go at time of writing and we wish them every luck.

Congratulations to the winners and the participants. That is one #hot race!

And we’ll end with a Fast Fact: Michele Graglia started off as a male model….

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