Badwater Ultramarathon

Run 217 km in Death Valley

After running 144 kilometres in the California desert heat, Chris Roman finally stopped to take a break. It was the first time since Km 67 of the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley (just under a three hour drive from Las Vegas)—and even then, he only stopped to change his shoes and socks. It was nighttime with no ambient lighting, so the sky looked like “someone had thrown paint on it, stars upon stars.” Roman was exhausted; borderline delirious (he begged his wife and crew member not to tell anyone he was acting “funny”) when his iPod shuffled to Dave Matthews’ “Crash Into Me” just as the sun was beginning to rise. He listened to the extended version of the song, repeated it twice and went from struggling to walk—“every step hurt so bad”—to running 11 km at a five-minute-per-km pace. With the song just fading out, the last checkpoint at Lone Pine came into view in the desolate distance. “I can remember every single second of listening to that song and watching that sunrise,” he recalls. “All of a sudden, things went from not-so-great to okay.”




Jacksonville, Fla.




He racked up eight 160-km races and two 217-km races in four years.

Claim to fame

In September 2010, Roman became the first person to run the length of the Erie Canal. He completed the 554-km trek in just over six days.

Badwater Route

From Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, Calif., Roman finished 16th out of 90, clocking the 217-km distance in 32.37 hours.

Pounds of ice used

400. From wearing ice bandanas to ingesting cubes.


Roman almost went into hypothermia when his crew splashed him with ice-cold Champagne.

Bottom line

“It’s two days of your life and you push through it.”