Endurance runner to tackle Death Valley

Dunedin ultra-endurance runner and joiner GlennSutton is all set to line up at the Badwater 135...
Dunedin ultra-endurance runner and joiner GlennSutton is all set to line up at the Badwater 135 in July this year.PHOTO: ADVENTURE MEDIA GROUP/DEREK MORRISON
Dunedin ultra-endurance runner Glenn Sutton will line up for a third crack at the world's toughest foot race.

The Badwater 135 is no walk in the park. It is a 135-mile (217km) run from the floor of Death Valley to a high point of Mt Whitney.

Sutton will become the first New Zealander to compete in three Badwater events. He lined up in the event in 2014 and 2015.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge and getting myself ready for it," he adds. "My goals this year at Badwater are, firstly, to finish the course, and then to do better than the previous two times I ran it. I'd like to finish in the top 30, but in saying that it is a very select field that makes the cut each year - it is the toughest foot race in the world," he said.

Temperatures in Death Valley soar to 50degC, with ground temperatures as high as 80degC. To top it all off Sutton has to climb almost 4500m of vertical ascent during the race. His best time for the 135 miles, in 2014, was 36 hours.

Last year, the temperatures reached up to 57-58degC, which was the hottest it has ever been during the race.

To prepare for the extreme conditions, Sutton is in the process of making himself a heat box to train in, complete with a treadmill and heaters. He also joins in on Bikram yoga classes to strengthen and lengthen his body.

Sutton was surprised he made the cut after his application last year failed.

"I wasn't too confident, as they only take 100 runners each year. Being the first Kiwi to attempt it a third time does add a little bit more pressure, but I'm just going there to give it a good crack and to do my best."

While Sutton has miles in his legs - he did win the Naseby Water Race 200km event the past two years and the Northburn 100 Miler in 2018 - he still feels like the July 15 race day is not that far away.

"I'm having to ramp up my training. Which means general life will be out to one side for now. It will be all about training and mentally preparing myself for the race. I have to sacrifice a few things so that when I go over there I can give it 100% and my best shot."

He credited his family - he is married with three daughters - for helping him immensely.

"I'll have to be more disciplined, getting up early in the morning and doing my routine stretches and routine runs and staying positive. It's the wee things that count."

In 2015 he covered the course in 39 hours, and this year was aiming for under 30 hours.

"It would be fantastic to go under 30 hours, but you never know - six hours is a lot of time to take off. But I am up for that challenge."

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