Marathons

I Just Signed Up for a Very Difficult (and Very Cool) Virtual Race!

Written by Charlie

I just signed up for what might just be one of the most difficult virtual races ever! But, it also promises to be one of the coolest around – the Badwater 135 VR Elite!

Virtual races became very much a thing in 2020 as in-person race experiences canceled by the dozens. In their place came virtual events that allowed participants to cover the same distance and earn a medal and some swag while being a part of a larger community. Well, these events have stuck around and I just signed up for what might be one of the most difficult – but also one of the coolest!

The Badwater 267 VR Elite

Link: The Badwater 267 VR Elite

What is “Badwater?”

visit death valley

The lowest place in the US

To explain what “Badwater” is before describing the event, here is a quick look. The Badwater Basin, located in Death Valley, California, is the lowest point in North America at 279 feet below sea level. It is also known as the starting point for one of the most difficult races in the world – the Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon.

I was privileged to be a part of this event back in 2010 as a pacer and crew member for a friend who was attempting the race. The race itself is a 135 mile race from the floor of Death Valley to the portals of Mt. Whitney. During our race, we encountered temperatures that were up to 128 degrees. I mean, that is so hot that I had to put something under me while sitting on the pavement (as my racer was elevating his legs on my shoulders) since the heat-soaked pavement was burning a whole through my clothes.

Here is how I trained to be a pacer for this event

Enter the Badwater 267 VR Elite

It is an epic journey that a small group of runners get to take part in every year. The Badwater organizers have since brought the Badwater magic to other events as well, namely Badwater Salton Sea (81 miles) and the Badwater Cape Fear (51 miles). This year, they are combining all of that to make the ultimate virtual race experience – the Badwater 267 VR Elite.

In January, they had the Badwater 267 VR which challenged hundreds of runners to run 267 miles throughout the month of January. That is a big goal to tackle since it meant runners had to average a bit over 8.5 miles per day or 60 miles per week. Now, they are turning that up a few notches with the Badwater 267 VR EliteThis virtual race requires the same 267 miles to be run – but to be run in a span of 16 days. For those keeping track, that works out to 16.7 miles per day or 117 miles per week (plus two more days of 16.7 miles per day).

Some of the Rules

While this would be difficult enough for most runners (elite marathoners routinely run 120+ mile weeks), they, of course, threw a few more things into make it even more challenging.

  • This will be a race in that there will be slots for the top winners (based on cumulated time of runs)
    • This means that there needs to be strategy as you don’t want to run 5 50 mile runs since your pace will be slower at the end of each of those runs
  • The total time allowed for all running activities has to be under 90 hours (the total time allowed for all three regular Badwater events, combined)
  • None of the miles can be run during actual race events – these must be solo runs (running with friends is ok, just not in a real event)
  • There is no treadmill running – it must be run completely outdoors, no matter the weather

In essence, this is like a 16 day stage race. While this is actually very doable at the required distance per day, what makes this so difficult is that it takes place during regular day-today life.

Real Life and the Numbers

In my situation, my days are already pretty packed. So, I need to chip away even more at my one negotiable, namely sleep. I have a strategy in mind to try and be as competitive as I can be but will want to test it out a bit to see how it may work out. 🙂

This is like running 10 marathons in 16 days – let that sink in! I have done 6 marathon runs in just under 5 days (while doing each of those on a separate continent), but that was all I had to focus on each of those days. This time, I will be in my home life  and the time and distance will be a lot more.

There are also other challenges like nutrition. I will be burning an average of 2,500 calories per day. This means I need to make sure my caloric intake goes up while eating things that will help in muscle repair.

Since I am having to start earlier in the morning, it means less sleep also. So, the sleep I do get will have to be deep and restorative, not likely a problem since I will be exhausted by bedtime!

Also, weather! Fortunately, where I live in April is normally fantastic weather with almost no rain. This should really help me but, of course, who knows what will actually happen!

I am pretty excited about this virtual event! There are some runners on the entry list that are world class runners and some I have run with so it will be fun to check in with all of them on a daily basis! At present, there are just over 100 other runners doing this insane challenge. If you want to do it as well, check it out here!

Lastly, I will be doing it as a charity fundraiser as well. I have done many of these before but this charity this time is more personal than ever and I will be sharing more of this in another post – please don’t shy away from it when it comes as I won’t be begging for money. 🙂

April 3-18 will be one exhausting period of time! I will likely be doing some daily YouTube running vlogs about it along the way so I will post those when it starts.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

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