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Caffeinated Coder A Grande, Triple Shot, Non-Fat Core Dump by Russell Ball
The heat index was over a hundred today when I ran one of my regular six mile routes. This summer has actually been pretty mild by Kansas standards (last summer we had 14 days that were over one hundred degrees). Having grown up in Michigan, I do my share of complaining about Kansas summers and generally try to avoid the heat whenever possible except when it comes to running. For some inexplicable reason, I am partial to noon runs when it is over a hundred degrees and sweat gushes from every one of my mutant, overactive sweat glands. To give you an idea of how much I sweat, I once weighed myself before and after a 20 mile summer run and discovered that I lost 5 pounds of water weight despite drinking a whole jug of gaterade along the way. Nevertheless, I actually enjoy the experience and find it to be purifying in a way that is addictive.

That being said, there is also a dark side to this pastime. A couple years ago, I was careless about my liquid intake during an unseasonably hot marathon and ended up severely dehydrated. By mile 23, I was on my knees in the middle of a busy intersection puking my guts out. It then took me over an hour to finish due to extreme muscle cramping and fatigue. By the time I finally crossed the finish line, I made my way directly to the med tent where I was quickly hooked up to an IV. Not one of my better races.

To be fair, my experience with running in the heat is downright tame in comparison to what the runners of the Badwater Ultra-Marathon experience. Considered to be one of the toughest endurance events around, this 135 mile race (the equivalent of over 5 consecutive marathons) starts in Death Valley in July where temperatures can climb up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and the concrete gets hot enough to melt the soles of shoes. If that isn't bad enough, the race covers three mountain ranges for a cumulative vertical ascent of 13,000 feet. The ultimate goal of these extreme runners is to finish the race in less than 48 hours so that they can get a coveted Badwater belt buckle. That's prize money is involved. The whole spectacle is captured in fascinating detail by a documentary called Running on the Sun that I bought a while ago and periodically watch with the same rapt attention one would pay to a gruesome car wreck. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the DVD:

  • One of the participants, who is a tough-as-nails marine with the physique of a greek god, confounds all expectations by first dropping out very early due to dehydration and then by rejoining the race later to offer moral support for another ailing runner who couldn't afford a crew.
  • A 68 year old man from England finishes the race thanks to his wife who drove ahead of him in the final miles with a Guiness beer bottle attached to a stick on the back of her support van. He happily drank the beer as soon as he crossed the finish line.
  • A woman explains to the documentary crew that she knew she was feeling better because the frequency of her hallucinations had decreased.
  • A New Yorker reaches new and amusing heights of irritability when his crew returns late with his soup. 
  • Somewhere around a hundred miles, a runner suddenly stops talking to the camera crew that was driving next to him, announces that he is a little bit tired, and lays down flat in the middle of the road.
  • One of the more competitive runners explains that he had every one of his toe nails surgically removed because they kept falling off after his ultra-marathons. (see picture below for what this race will do to your feet)

I highly recommend that you buy this DVD for sheer entertainment value even if you never plan to put on a pair of running shoes in your life.

* By the way and for the record, I in NO WAY intend to run in this race…and I'm not just saying to assuage my wife who has threatened on numerous occasions to divorce and/or dismember various appendages if the thought so much as crossed my mind...which is hasn't...seriously...for real. 

Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2007 11:13 PM Non-Techie Interests | Back to top

Comments on this post: He Likes to Run for Fun in the Hot, Hot Sun

# re: He Likes to Run for Fun in the Hot, Hot Sun
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Nice write up !

There is another feat that 3 guys accomplished running in the hot sun in the desert. 4300 Miles over 111 days across the Sahara !
Left by Shiva on Aug 10, 2007 8:28 PM

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