Through the valley of death

Sutton more than 24 hours into his run across the searing desert. Photo by Scott Wilson
Sutton more than 24 hours into his run across the searing desert. Photo by Scott Wilson
Glenn Sutton just spent a day and a-half running in the hottest place on Earth - and he has not ruled out doing it again.

Blisters, strangely shaped knees and calves and several pairs of ruined running shoes later, the Dunedin man successfully completed the Badwater 135, a 217km running race in the searing heat of Death Valley in California.

He finished 33rd overall, in a time of 36hr 30min 28sec.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times shortly after finishing the race yesterday afternoon, Sutton said it was hard to describe how he was feeling, having successfully completed the race.

''It has not really sunk in yet. It's all been a bit of a blur. The time has gone really fast,'' he said.

''I'm really pleased to have got there. I was under a bit of pressure and did not want to let a lot of people down. It is nice to have pulled it off.''

Five months of race build-up - and money spent - helped motivate him to finish.

''At the moment I'm not sore.

''My knee and calf on one leg look a bit bigger and a bit different than they should but I'll be right. It will probably take a couple of days and then I'll be stiff as.''

The Dunedin joiner had trained for the event by building a box at home, installing a heater and treadmill inside it, then logging up the training miles.

But he said the heat under the California sun was something you could not prepare for.

''The heat really knocks you around. Coming from a cold climate like I have, you come into something like this it is like `Woo'.

''So, yes, it was reasonably warm. And then they said it was not as hot as in previous years.''

His support crew carried an ice bath, in which he cooled off.

The temperatures got well past 40degC, on a course which climbed above 3000m. This is an area which has recorded the highest air temperature in the world of 57degC.

The father-of-three said there were a couple of dark periods on his trek.

''There was one time there, when the boys [his support crew] went away to get some supplies when I was struggling. They shouldn't have gone, really.

''Someone should have stayed with me. I ran out of water and all I felt like was going to sleep in the bush on the side of the road.

''But you just keep going. Think of all the time you've put into it and people who have helped you. The guys with you. I couldn't have done it without them.''

He spoke to his family back in Dunedin on his last major hill climb, and that got him home.

''Would I do it again? I don't know. I think the temptation is always there. You learn so much from the first one.

''It is a great event. I'd probably want to do it again in a sick sort of way.''

With the race over, he is heading for some relaxation in Las Vegas and Mexico before returning home next week.

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