Jack Denness, 75, has to be congratulated. He has become the oldest person ever to complete the Badwater Ultramarathon. He crossed the finish line in 59:13:02, just beating the 60 hour cutoff. “I’m not an elite runner, I’m just an ordinary bloke who, as it turns out, has been quite successful at running,” he says.
Least you need reminding, Badwater is a 135 mile race held annually in Death Valley, California known as one of the hottest places on earth. The race is held in the middle of Summer and as it is non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55c) it is considered to be the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. The 33rd anniversary edition was held between 12th – 14th July, 2010.
He started the race at 10.00 a.m. Monday morning and finished at midnight on Wednesday. “You have to be mad to do it. It’s one of the conditions of the race,” he said.
He may not have won the Badwater Ultramarathon. 31 year old Zach Gingerich of Illinois had that honor, completing the race in 24:44:48, but there’s a whole other level of endurance required for an athlete who spends more than double that amount of time out on the course, in the blazing desert sun, day and night with no sleep.
Mr Denness said this was the last time he was going to run the ultramarathon
After the race Denness told the the BBC, “It’s like a family out here in Death Valley. We look out for each other. It’s not about winning or losing but about helping people reach the finish line.”
He became the oldest person to run the Badwater race five years ago. Yesterday he broke his own record, setting the new mark at 75. Denness (SevenSeasHealth) didn’t even start running until he was 45 – when he gave up smoking!
He has raised more than £100,000 for charity since he began running, and this year was collecting funds for Kent-based organisation Cerebral Palsy. “Seeing how the money raised benefits the children is motivation enough for me when I’m running,” he said.
And it’s not just ordinary marathons that this extraordinary man runs although he has done the London marathon 14 times – he’s seriously into ultramarathons like this Badwater one which must be one of the most extreme marathons in the world. He’s also a keen competitor in some of RacingThePlanet’s ultra-marathons which are self-supported races in some of the most extreme places in the world – the Atacama Desert, the Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert and the Antartic Desert to name but a few.
He says he’s going to retire now – 150 marathons under his belt and enough is enough … but he has said that before!
Before we end we would like to add our congratulations to all the people who took part in this extreme ultra-marathon. It must be one of endurance racing’s ultimate challenges and hats off to everyone who participates.