Heat box helping Sutton to prepare

Runner Glenn Sutton inside his newly constructed heat box to prepare for the Badwater race....
Runner Glenn Sutton inside his newly constructed heat box to prepare for the Badwater race. PHOTOS: GERARD O’BRIEN

Build it and they - with any brains - will not come.

Ultra-distance runner Glenn Sutton has built his second heat box to help him prepare for the Badwater endurance race in Death Valley in July.

The box made of wood and lined, with three heaters inside, has a treadmillfor Sutton to simulate the conditions he will face in Death Valley.

The endurance race is not your normal stroll in the park. Far from it.

It is 217km of tough hard racing in a desert, where last year temperatures reached up to a record 58degC, and runners have to climb more than 4400m.

Sutton (45) cannot just head out from a Dunedin winter and try to run in the heat of the Californian desert hence the construction of the heat box.

"We've got it all lined and got three heaters going in there. The guys had it up to 49degC in there yesterday but luckily I wasn't in there," he said.

The heat box constructed by Glenn Sutton.
The heat box constructed by Glenn Sutton.
"You just need it. But you can only last for an hour to a hour and a-half in there. It just soaks it out of you. When you do the run, it is just as hot but you have lots more to look at. The scenery is just mind-blowing," he said.

"It is the road over there that makes it so hot. You've got black tarmac the whole way."

The Dunedin carpenter is the only New Zealander entered this year in the race, which starts on July 15.

He raced in 2014, recording a time of just over 36hr and the following year returned and recorded a time of 39hr 30min.

This year there had been talk of trying to go under the 30hr mark but now the onus was simply on wanting to finish.

It was a hard, brutal event in extreme conditions.

"I've run in longer events but this is just so tough. You just can't escape the heat. They start the race in three waves and I'm in the first wave which helps so you can get out and away. Last time I started at 9.30pm and it was 42degC."

Sutton said he was carrying out his training slightly different this time around, attempting to keep the weight off his legs. He was going to the gym, hopping on his bicycle and doing Bikram yoga. He was still running upwards of 100km a week.

"Plus when I go over there I have a week to acclimatise. Just sit around and get used to the heat.

"Don't use any air conditioners in the cars or the hotels - adjusting to the heat all the time."

The start line for the race is at Badwater Basin, in Death Valley, the lowest elevation in North America at 85m below sea level.

The race finishes at Whitney Portal, 2530m above sea level, which is the trailhead to the Mt Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States.

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