Marshall started running the Badwater Ultramarathon this morning. This is his 18th Badwater, and 24th crossing of Death Valley on foot — in the summer. You can follow his progress here or on the Badwater 2012 webcast.
Marshall hopes to finish the official 135-mile race in about 40 hours. Then, on Thursday – pending getting permits from the US Forest Service – he will continue another 11 miles to the summit of Mount Whitney. Marshall has always “gone to the top” as the whole idea of the race was to go from the lowest spot in the US, Badwater, to the highest point in the lower 48 states, the summit of Mount Whitney…and Marshall is a stickler for honoring the past and those who set the standard before him. [Note on 7/23/12: Marsh surprised everyone by deciding to put off the summit of Mount Whitney until after the circumnavigation.]
But, after completing the Badwater 146, Marshall won’t be done! No. Not him. To top things off, he and friend Dave Heckman will begin an incredible journey: the first-ever circumnavigation of Death Valley National Park! Follow Dave and Marshall using Spot Tracker. I will be doing “sweep” along with our friend and neighbor Roger Kaufhold, to ensure that nothing is left behind. Translation: we’re on garbage detail! We’ll also provide a first line of emergency support, if needed.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the project video trailer.
You can read about how Dave and Marshall prepared for the circumnavigation here.
Thanks to everyone for your comments and support!
Oh, and if you’re interested, here’s what we sent out to the press about this extreme expedition.
First Time Ever: Two Men Attempt Circumnavigation of Death Valley National Park on Foot…in July
Idaho Springs, CO, July 2012 – On July 21st Marshall Ulrich (61) and Dave Heckman (38) will set out to do what no one else has done before: complete a circumnavigation of Death Valley National Park on foot, trodding close to 500 miles through tough terrain and climbing over several mountain ranges up to 5,000 feet.
In July, temperatures in Death Valley can exceed 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s the second hottest place on earth, so most people aren’t familiar with its alien landscape or the strange creatures making their homes there. Never mind the realities of the harsh conditions Ulrich and Heckman will face, including the scorching temps with the threat of dehydration and heat stroke, along with rattlesnakes, scorpions, coyotes, and unforgiving terrain.
Most people assume the area got its name because nothing can survive out there, and it’s true: Death Valley can be a dangerous place.
Yet it boasts a history of boom and bust mining towns and small communities since the 1800s. In fact, people have been in Death Valley even much longer than that. More than a thousand years before the first white man lumbered into the desert, the Timbisha Shoshone made their homes there. Descendants of that ancient tribe still live in the heart of the desert, keeping their customs and traditions alive.
As Ulrich and Heckman make their way around the exterior of the park, they will carry 3-D cameras to capture on film what they love most about this area: starkly beautiful sand dunes, jagged rock formations, eerie and expansive salt flats, carved slot canyons, isolated oases, and massive Joshua tree forests. This one-of-a-kind footage, along with additional cinematography, will document their progress and, they are hopeful, their completion of this adventure by the end of August.
Beyond their goal of achieving a first together, both men wish to draw attention to this unique National Park, to honor its past and raise important questions about its future.
Ulrich is a Colorado native, an extreme endurance athlete (ultrarunner-mountaineer-adventure racer), author (“Running on Empty,” 2011), speaker, trainer and guide. Heckman is an endurance runner and cycler, avid camper, and firefighter/medic in Northern California.