The 135-mile route of Badwater is infamously known as “the world’s toughest footrace” due to extremely high temperatures and its sheer length. Finishing the race once is a pretty massive achievement.
Tell that to Lisa Smith-Batchen, who has run the race nine times previously, and finished as female champion in 1997 and 1998. This year, the ultrarunner from Driggs, Idaho successfully covered the race four times, back-to-back, adding on two summits of the 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney twice.
Smith-Batchen, 54, did it to raise money for an organization she created called Badwater4GoodWater, working with the Waterkeepers Alliance in an attempt to expand clean water supply around the world. For the duration of the 14 days she took, she ran roughly 40 to 50 miles per day resting for hours at a time. When running, she’d stop every three miles for a five minute break.
Adversity came in many forms for the participants of the race. From 127 degree heat and frequent temperatures in the mid-120s, to windstorms of up to 50mph, sandstorms, lightning storms and obvious factors like fatigue, severe stomach issues, and animal encounters, the race definitely lived up to its notorious reputation.
During the course of her Herculean task she only had one thing in her mind to keep her going. “I had in my head that every mile run would help 1,000 people. I’d do three miles and think, ‘Three thousand people. I can do this,'” she told Runners World.
Smith-Batchen raised enough money to build “at least 10 wells” in Africa, where she’s helped build schools over the years. Using altruism as her fuel, Smith-Batchen is an example of what the human mind can achieve when it works in harmony with the body.
Congratulations Lisa for a truly inspiring superhuman effort!