After a year away from Death Valley National Park, the Badwater 135 ultramarathon appears headed back to its roots.
Chris Kostman, race director and founder of AdventureCorps, which puts on the Badwater 135 and other endurance events, announced in a news release Sunday that the 135-mile race will be held July 28-30 of 2015 “on the traditional route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney.”
Last year’s race was held outside the park when the National Park Service imposed a moratorium while it conducted a safety review of such events in Death Valley.
Instead of beginning at the traditional starting point of Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level) within the park and ending at Whitney Portal, the 2014 race began in Lone Pine, Calif., but had the same finish.
Runners were disappointed in 2014, and the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce also voiced displeasure at lost revenue and not having input into the park’s decision process.
When the safety review was completed this fall, rules were adopted by the park to ban athletic events after 10 a.m. between June 14 and Sept. 9.
The Badwater race has traditionally been held in July when temperatures often exceed 110 degrees. Because of the heat, distance and elevation gains, the race has been billed as the toughest in the world.
The 2015 race will change its morning start time (used since 1996) to a three-wave start of the 100 runners between 8-11:25 p.m. The race also must be held during a full-moon phase for better visibility. The July 28-30 dates comply with that requirement.
Other changes in the race will include no more than one support vehicle (instead of two) per runner and no more than six crew members per runner (instead of six). Race organizers also will have to impose a few other changes on support crews to comply with safety rules.
Kostman says the route will be identical to the one used in 2013, the year before the moratorium. In an email, Kostman said he doesn’t believe the race will be compromised “at all” by the changes.
Cheryl Chipman, public information officer at Death Valley National Park, said the park has yet to receive an official application from AdventureCorps for the 2015 race, but said the park and Kostman have had numerous conversations about reinstating the race under the new rules.
“We anticipate getting that package in, (and) I don’t see a problem with it whatsoever,” she said.
Added Chipman: “He’s well aware of the conditions for the race and then it’s up to him to apply to meet those conditions, and that’s apparently what he’s decided to do.”
Applications to compete in the 2015 Badwater will be accepted from Jan. 19 to Feb. 2, with details available on the race website (badwater.com).
Kostman will announce further details of the race -– and new rules -– in January.