Badwater did what many are hoping Boston will do.
For those not familiar with Badwater, it is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult footraces in the world. Starting at 282 feet below sea level in the Badwater Basin of California’s Death Valley (the lowest point in North America), and ending at an elevation of 8,360 feet at Whitney Portal, (the trailhead to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48), Badwater tests the souls, bodies, and well, soles of its competitors. Well, now it is testing them more.
Early in October, Badwater announced it would be moving its overall cutoff from 60 hours to 48. Stating “…given the historical trend of the whole Badwater race field getting faster, it was inevitable that the overall cut-off for the race would drop…” Badwater has decided that people are challenging themselves more these days and therefore they will up the ante. This is exactly what the Boston Marathon should do.
I had a brief conversation with a writer who covers ultra events and when I stated something akin to how Badwater’s very generous 60 hour cutoff was making the race yet another thing to simply check off the list of “have dones”, he agreed. If it is going to bill itself as the world’s toughest footrace then it should be, you know, a foot race. That is tough.
Badwater is definitely on my to-do list. Given the heat, the extremes and the like, it would be quite the challenge for a person like myself who does horribly in warm weather. Now that they have made it more difficult to actually complete the race, it is moving closer toward the top of my list. This is not an elitist attitude. I simply wish for the accomplishment that I have strived for not to be water-downed. While it may be a few years until I finally get out to Death Valley to give it a shot, I am already applauding this decision to adjust the cutoff time. It reflects the times and also continues to give those who have achieved the highest level of athletic achievement in this sport, a reason to continue to feel good.
The question now remains if the belt buckle that runners receive for finishing under 48 hours (sort of the Grade A level of achievement at this race) will also be affected. Will runners now be expected to reach a different benchmark in order to receive the buckle?