The Badwater Ultramarathon describes itself as "the world's toughest foot race". It is a 135-mile (217 km) course starting at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level in the Badwater Basin, in California's Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney. It takes place annually in mid-July, when the weather conditions are most extreme and temperatures over 120 °F (49 °C), even in the shade, are not uncommon. Consequently, very few people—even among ultramarathoners—are capable of finishing this grueling race. Currently, AdventureCORPS manages the competitive race from Badwater to Whitney Portal. The course route is specified, and the race is held annually. The field is invitation-only and limited in size. Demand to participate in the race usually far exceeds available spots.[Wikepedia]
I entered the race over 11 consecutive years, 2002-2012; finishing 9 times under the 60-hour cutoff, including once under the 48 hour time limit to be awarded the coveted Badwater belt buckle. This summer (2013) I returned, to watch and photograph the race from the other side of the road. My aim was not simply to capture images of the runners, but to place them within the context of the austerely beautiful environments of the race route through Death, Panamint and Owens valleys and across three mountain ranges.