In 2020, Badwater135 was canceled and Chris Kostman and the whole AdventureCORPS had interesting ideas for 2021. As most races are canceled and borders are closed, the only solution was to organize online races. In January they organized Badwater267VR and in April there was Badwater267VR Elite.
The distance of this Badwater267 comes from three races Badwater135 with 135 miles to run, Badwater Salton Sea with 81 miles, and Badwater Cape Fear with 51 miles, all of them give 267 miles. In April it was more challenging because there were only 16 days to run 267 miles and there was a time limit, 90 hours in total.
Of course, online racing isn’t the same as a physical one and I wouldn’t do it if there wouldn’t be organized by the team behind Badwater135. When I see somewhere Badwater logo it means it can’t be so easy. And April’s race wasn’t.
In this post, I’d love to share with you how it was.
My initial idea was to run three times. First, run 51 miles, rest one day, then run 81 miles, rest 3 or 4 days and run 135 miles, as it would be three as races. The plan looked fine. I had a week off at work so I didn’t have to worry about rest. I wanted to run almost all miles on the track because I could have food and water close to me and I wouldn’t have to carry everything on my back.
So, I started on 3rd April at midnight when the race officially started. With a backpack, I ran on track to run there 51 miles.
Everyone who has run at night longer distances or run 24 hours, knows that lack of light influences negatively on performance. But, it was only 51 miles, it can’t be that hard and I already did the race through 2 nights.
It was tough but it looked like something doable. Around mile 34, I started to feel prickly pain in my knee. Of course, I thought it would disappear after a few miles, but it didn’t and I started wondering what to do. I knew that I could do it anyway but I wasn’t sure what can happen if this pain is serious.
I did some calculations, what worst can happen and what best can happen. The worst was I got injured and I won’t finish this race at all and I won’t be able to train for the next few weeks or months because knee injuries are often serious. The best way, I will finish it and stay on plan.
After a few miles, when the pain didn’t disappear I decided to stop for that day because chances for injury are too high and there isn’t any price for that.
So, I had to change my plan. I did that day 37 miles, 14 less than planned.
I had to invent something else. I got the idea to do marathons. How many marathons? Maybe 7 marathons in the next 7 days? It was the plan I needed. I started on Monday after Sunday’s day off. Day off, I mean, I did only 7.5 miles that day.
7 Marathons In 7 Days
The first marathon on Monday was the test for my knee, it should be fine after resting and it was, this pain didn’t come back. Most of the distance I did on the track. The pace wasn’t impressive because I found that I sometimes needed to walk for a while. And the some loops on the track till Friday were sometimes walking ones because knees get tense and I had to stretch them.
The second day was the real test for running these 7 marathons because if the body is fresh it’s easy to run a marathon but the real pain will appear on the second day. I knew if I manage to do it without lots of suffering I can do all 7. After 5 hours, I did it and this was confirmation if any injury won’t appear I’m able to do it. On that day, I had a visit to a physiotherapist which helps me prevent injuries and accelerates recovery.
On Wednesday, I had planned a call with friends and we spent an hour talking and meanwhile I was walking, during that hour I did around 4 miles. Even if I spent that time on walking I managed to finish that day in around 5 hours.
On Thursday, the fourth day, I started running in the morning and I was thinking it’s going to be a sunny day. That day the weather had some jokes for me because it changed a few times. When I arrived at the track it started raining then it changed to snowing, after 20 maybe 40 minutes the sun came back and all snow melted. After some time the sun hid again and the snow came back with more intensity. This kind of change repeated once again or twice, for a while, I think, there was also hail but it was small and it didn’t prevent it from running. Perfect weather condition for running Badwater267, all weather conditions, just perfect ?.
On Friday, there wasn’t anything special but I found that knees getting tenser and tenser when I run these loops on the track and I started wondering if I should run somewhere else, it would be more difficult because uphill and downhill but it could be better for knees. And the last 6/10 miles I did outside the track and it was much better.
The weekend, finally, weekend, but for me, it didn’t matter because I needed to run the same things as in previous days. On Saturday and Sunday, I skipped track and did other routes thinking about knees and it was a good solution. Even if I had to do more uphill and downhill my knees noticed a difference and hurt less.
After the Sunday marathon, I wasn’t finished because about 40 miles left to do 267 in total, but running 40 miles in one week isn’t that much anymore.
So I took three days off and I did less than 2 miles on these days, and the rest of the distance on the remaining days.
If you’re wondering what was my pace and exactly distance here is a screenshot from Strava because all workout we had to put on the Strava
I spent 51 hours in total in the last 16 days running and walking, you might wonder if it is boring to run and run and walk and run. It depends, during that time I was listening to different things, for example, I listened to Digital Minimalis, an interesting book, worth to read or listen to. I listen to different podcasts but the most time I spent listening to Ben Greenfield, it’s perfect to listen to about health during running. Sometimes I was listening to music or just running in silence thinking about something. Once, I had planned a call with friends and I had to do both things at the same time.
I think running isn’t the healthiest thing to do in life, especially ultra because it has some negative influence on the body, for example by stressing the organism all the time. But these things have some long-term negative impact but it’s important to keep it in mind that in 20 or 30 years all those miles can show as hips or knees problems.
However, there is some almost instant impact as well. There are problems with sleep because after most exercising it’s easier to fall asleep but after 5 hours of running it becomes more difficult especially when everything hurts especially knees. And even sleeping 8-10 hours doesn’t recover fully.
Another thing that I notice immediately is the breakdown of the muscles. After these 7 days, I did 50 pushups and I felt tired, I did some pullup and I felt tired. Many muscles have broken down because the body needed some fuel during running and food is not always enough in my case.
Overall, I’m happy to take part in this event because I had this idea since last year to do 7 marathons in 7 days. These 7 days, I spent mostly on running, it’s hard to do anything else that needs focus and attention when my body is exhausted.
I like challenges because they show what we’re able to do. Before doing a challenge it might look difficult but when the job is done, then next time the same challenge looks easy.