Badwater 2015

the report and summary published in “Bieganie” Magazine

Darek Strychalski finished the Badwater Ultramarathon! 217 km in the deadly desert sun covered in 45h 11 min and 10 seconds. Darek – you’re the man! And standing ovations for the crew that supported him at the finish line – you’re great, guys!

“Roadside in Keeler, 34th hour of the race. The legs of our runner have already made around 180 km. He has a major crisis and is sleeping in the car with AC on. Kamil, our driver, is looking after him. Me, Kuba and Miki are sitting on the sand next to the car, trying to figure out what’s next. A moment ago Darek tried to leave the car and collapsed, and threw up more. It was the third time it happened. He’s just wrecked… we all agreed that if he doesn’t get better in 2 hours, we quit the race, drive him to Lone Pine and get him the IV drip. Our bullhead just asked for it. We force feed him at about 8 PM, half an hour later he starts to walk, staggers, but doesn’t fall. We all know he won’t be running anytime soon. 40 km left to the finish line, he had to shuffle through it. And the bastard did it. That strong will, that passion and durability, it’s incredible. And that stubbornness that nearly got him down for good… luckily when we pacify him and explain what happened, he promises to be more responsible. He’s a great guy who has some things to work on, just like all of us. We had a great time with great people and a happy end there. Our team can break any system, really. There were some f*cks thrown around, some weeping with emotion, loads of laughter – it was good. I’m glad and satisfied with how we fought together. Darek is a G R E A T man who gives others more than life ever gave him.”

This is how Filip Bojko from Darek’s support team described Badwater Ultramarathon. The other guys also wrote a few worthwhile words. The article below contains an extensive coverage and photos, both from the marathon itself and the preparations before. Congratulations to Darek, his team and to Zbyszek Malinowski and Darek Łabudzki, who also beat the blistering hot Badwater Ultramarathon!

Harvey Lewis from Cincinnati, Ohio won the marathon after beating the 135 miles long route in 23 hours and 52 minutes. The fastest woman, Alyson Venti from Miami, Florida was 8th in the general category after finishing the race in 28 hours, 37 minutes and 28 seconds.
News from the battlefield

Our cowboy sets off, the first 8 km he doesn’t need any support. We take the car and drive to the further part of the route, where there’s no reception. We’re expecting to hear from Darek only in the evening, after he runs down Horseshoe Meadows. Then he’s going to get the transmitter – there’s no point to weigh him down with it in the no reception area. For now, the transmitter shows us, the support group – reports Filip Bojko.

22nd of July:

Filip Bojko reports: “Darek had a solid crisis at the feet of Cerro Gordo rise. Vomiting, drowsiness and “cement” legs. Only after a short nap at the top of the rise he felt relatively better. Running down a gravel road in the dark was a real bugger. Luckily now he’s on a road as flat as a pancake. It also turned out that this section of the route was critical for many other contestants. At least a dozen of them gave the race up. Darek has been running for an hour now. The weather will spare no one today, but nobody said this marathon will be easy.”

9:30 PM Polish time: There are already seven contestants on the finish line. We’re waiting for any news about Darek. The part he’s at takes a lot of time. We know that Darek had a crisis and slept a bit to regenerate. Now the guys are silent. We’re crossing our fingers.

23rd of July:

23rd of July, 1:00 AM Polish time: The crisis of the 90th mile has been overcome. Darek was down and halfway out, but he rose like a phoenix. He’s just crossed the 100th mile. Now the last straightaway to Lone Pine and then Mt. Whitney.

23rd of July, 2:00 AM Polish time: Dear friends! We passed all your comments and support to Darek. He needs you now more than ever! A blazing wind is blowing, dust and sand is everywhere. (Cheer for Darek on his Facebook fan page Zwycięzca!)

He says he’s gonna make it. Cross your fingers! About 50 km left.

23rd of July, 6:00 AM Polish time: The best moment of the marathon. Darek went through a major 2-hour crisis, Filip is tending to him and reading your comments and messages aloud.

23rd of July, 7:00 AM Polish time: Still putting Darek together.

9:30 AM Polish time: Lone Pine – Darek reached the 122nd mile after 40 hours and 14 minutes. He’s pressing on! He’s 74th. Not so far ahead, 69th and 71st respectively are Zbyszek Malinowski and Darek Łabudzki, they crossed this point after 38 hours and 56 minutes. We strongly support them too! Don’t give up, guys! 45 people are already at the Badwater Ultramarathon finish line, including 8 women! 12 people quit the race.

22nd of July, around 8:00 AM Polish time: Darek and Filip went from Lone Pine to Keeler together, reorganized, changed clothes and shoes. Some quick pasta with tomatoes and a fresh hare, then pressing on. 30 minutes ago Darek, who’d run nearly 100 kilometres so far, started climbing Cerro Gordo with Mikołaj. At 2:20 we’re to meet on the other side of the rise.

Around 3 PM Darek Strychalski reached the finish line of the Badwater Ultramarathon! 217 km in the sizzling desert sun beaten in 45 hours, 11 minutes and 10 seconds. Zbyszek Malinowski and Darek Łabudzki finished as 62nd and 63rd – 42h 57 min 31 secs! Congratulations!

*** Earlier news

Darek Strychalski travelled to Death Valley to face the Badwater Ultramarathon for the second time. This time he has much more time to adjust. Filip Bojko accompanies him and we’re reporting on what the guys are up to in the USA!

4th of July (Friday) Darek Strychalski and Filip Bojko boarded the plane at Okęcie airport in Warsaw and took off to the USA. This time – also thanks to the money collected – Darek had much more time to adjust than 2 years ago. He managed to rest, adapt to the local temperature and toughen his stomach.

21st July

– We’re passed the clearance, packet received, shopping done, cars covered in stickers, the whole statutory gear packed. Darek’s been hydrating and eating carbs today, he also ran a short distance so that his muscles wouldn’t forget why they’re here. All of us are ready – reports Filip Bojko.

Courtesy of, the link below will allow to partially track UltraDarek’s progress on the route. Partially, because unfortunately civilisation hasn’t reached some parts of the area.

We’ll try to broadcast something en route on the Zwycięzca Facebook profile.

Cross your fingers! He’s gonna get some long-awaited, solid pounding!

15th of July (Tuesday)

It’s Filip Bojko from Darek’s team, we’ll support him during the race and now we’re trying to keep his spirits lifted:

“Today we made a little retrospective car trip to the finish line of the original Badwater Ultramarathon route and back. It’s about 450 km total. This year the route is different because the national park administration was dead set against the organizers. Oh how well we know it! Tomorrow we’re headed for the mountains where we’re planning to stay until Saturday. As compensation for changing the route there are three damn high rises to torture the runners. It’s where we’re gonna show Darek to the bears real soon.

We were in the field with Darek to check out the last section of the route, which is a dozen mile-long rise from Lone Pine to Mt. Whitney. We also kept an eye out for rattlesnakes since they’re pretty common around here. The rise looks solid, my calves literally started to burn at the very thought that the contestants will have to run up that hill with 190 kilometres already behind them… unfortunately we didn’t find any rattles, so we jogged a bit to chill out.

From now on I’m stuffing UltraDarek with carbs – as much as he can take. He’s slacking a bit, being a fussy eater and claiming he can’t eat so much in this heat. Bad news for him, there’s no place for prince treatment. I’m gonna fatten up our UltraGoose even if I have to force-feed him.”

14th of July (Monday)

For the weekend Darek and Filip went over to Dominika and Marcin’s – a couple who had invited them to their home in California after learning Darek’s story. The guys arrived in Riverside, where Darek fell in love – not quite with the Mexicans, who make up 80% of the population there, but with the beautiful countryside. He immediately went for a run with the new friend and his dog, Negrito.

Darek and Filip realized pretty quickly that wherever they go things are getting hot, but let’s be honest – it’s not only thanks to the hot tempers of both of the gentlemen. It’s just hot out there.

Today we did the first longer training in this heat with Darek. We ran up one of the local hills and our hosts followed us on their bikes. On the way Dominika helped some missy who ran out of body fuel and fainted on the rise. Luckily she put herself together without too much stagger. It was kind of a foretaste before Death Valley. We want to go there on Monday to have the last long run before the marathon. The weather is a killer here, especially with all this dust that you immediately scuff up. Whoever stays behind in the race is quite in the doghouse, especially while running down a slope. You better stop sucking in any air then.

How does Darek feel a week before the run? Head over heels in love with California, but the topic of Badwater isn’t easy. Darek sees only doom and gloom which, obviously, doesn’t make sense, because we all know he can’t be blown out of the water. Filip gives as many motivational speeches as he can, but it’s not helping much. Darek is stressing over getting injured or letting his stomach out of control and failing all these people who support him. To all this Filip replies:

I tell him that nobody will criticise him even if all of these bad things happen. This is an extreme effort in extreme conditions and anything can happen. Not without reason this marathon is considered one of the hardest ultramarathons in the world. If Darek has to quit, the world isn’t going to end, and giving up is an option that also has to be considered, but I believe everything is going to be alright. Our method is that whenever a crisis appears, we go out for a jog. It works best, at least for some time.

11th of July (Friday)

The guys headed South a couple of days ago. They want to reach the mountains as soon as possible, be through with long hours spent driving, and start a solid trai… a solid relaxation. For now, it’s not going that well – they’re mostly up to fun and debauchery, namely eating by the roads, sleeping by the roads… and watching Mundial by the roads.

Initially Darek and Filip set off towards Santa Barbara. Darek can barely hold still – he’s hyperactive all the time. It’s a good sign!

Several dozen miles before Santa Barbara we stopped for a short rest. It was supposed to be a coffee break… we ended up drinking coconut water. Suddenly Darek appears out of nowhere in front of me, dressed in his running outfit and says, “I’ll be back in an hour”.

He came back as promised, the difference was that his mood was like ten times better than before. And that was the first training, casual 10 km to pave the road.

In the Los Angeles suburbs, in a landscape park, they had some troubles with the local Officer, Mr Milton C. It turned out that being in the park after dark is absolutely forbidden and Darek and Filip also broke at least 4 other laws. The situation must have been ridiculous for both sides, but our guys are so charming that instead of spending the night at the police station with giant tickets to ponder, they spent it… in Milton’s garden. The officer had already written a ticket for them, but in the morning…

We gulped down some coffee and, joyful like kids, went outside to make ourselves some porridge. Before we left, Milton approached us and said with a smile, “Give that ticket back, you’re not going to need it.” Thanks, Milton!!! Porridge at large tastes delicious.

7th of July (Monday)

Darek and Filip are still fighting jetlag. They flew with a stopover in New York and on Saturday they landed in San Francisco. Yesterday they were planning to rest, but things came out as usual and the day was spent active. Guys toured the area by car and made about 300 km. They didn’t enjoy the beach anyhow, instead they practiced running up and down the hills in Half Moon Bay.