David McNew/Getty ImagesThe Badwater 135 ultra race will return to Death Valley National Park in 2015 after a one-year hiatus.
After a year away from Death Valley National Park, the Badwater 135 ultramarathon appears headed back to its roots.
Chris Kostman, race director and founder of AdventureCorps, which puts on the Badwater 135 and other endurance events, announced in a news release Sunday that the 135-mile race will be held July 28-30 of 2015 “on the traditional route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney.”
Last year’s race was held outside the park when the National Park Service imposed a moratorium while it conducted a safety review of such events in Death Valley.
Instead of beginning at the traditional starting point of Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level) within the park and ending at Whitney Portal, the 2014 race began in Lone Pine, Calif., but had the same finish.
Runners were disappointed in 2014, and the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce also voiced displeasure at lost revenue and not having input into the park’s decision process.
When the safety review was completed this fall, rules were adopted by the park to ban athletic events after 10 a.m. between June 14 and Sept. 9.
Craig Kolesky for Wings for Life World RunCoolboy Ngamole was part of a successful debut for the Wings for Life relay last summer.
By almost any measure, the inaugural Wings for Life World Run in May was a hit.
It drew more than 35,000 participants at 34 venues across the world, and runners said they loved the quirky format in which there was no finish line. Runners ran as fast and as far as they could before being passed by the “Catcher Car” that started 30 minutes after the runners.
Plus, the event raised $4.1 million for the Wings for Life foundation and medical research for spinal-cord injuries.
So, when the second annual event is held on May 3, 2015, there will be few changes. The race format, the Catcher Car and the simultaneous start (7 a.m. EST) across the globe at 35 venues on six continents will be familiar.
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“Why change perfection, right?” says Zoltan Polgar, the race director at Sunrise, Fla., one of three U.S. race venues in 2014 and one of three North American sites in 2015, along with Santa Clarita, Calif., and Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the border, about 30 minutes from Buffalo, N.Y.
Details of the 2015 race were announced Wednesday on the event’s website (wingsforlifeworldrun.com).
Polgar said the event will be tweaked in slight ways to respond to participants’ feedback. There will be more music and entertainment at venues, and the courses will be straighter, with fewer twists and turns.
Registration (via the website) will be $30 per person through December, with the price going up to $50 after Jan. 1. Organizers say 100 percent of fees go toward research. Runners must be at least 16 (down from a minimum of 18 last year).
The average distance run was 9.3 miles before being passed by the catcher car. The overall winners in the first event were Lemawork Ketema of Ethiopia (men), who ran 46.4 miles in Austria, and Selvikag Molvik (women), who did 32.4 miles in Norway.
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowMore than 50,000 runners crossed the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to start the New York City Marathon.
The 2014 New York City Marathon had 50,564 finishers, the New York Road Runners announced Monday, making it the largest marathon ever.
Last year's New York City Marathon set the previous record for the largest field in history with a total of 50,266 finishers. That 2013 total eclipsed the previous record -- from New York in 2011 -- by more than 3,000 after the 2012 race was cancelled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Only 305 of the 50,869 runners who started on Staten Island did not make it to the finish line in Central Park. Compared to other marathons, New York City has a high finish rate.
New York also hit another milestone during Sunday's race when its one-millionth finisher crossed crossed the line. Katherine Slingluff of Brooklyn completed her race in 4:43:36.
Here is a look at the largest fields ever at each of the five most popular marathons in the world.
Alex Trautwig/Getty ImagesMeb Keflezighi (left) of California was the top American finisher on Sunday.
Buzunesh Deba, another Ethiopian from the Bronx, finished a disappointing ninth in the women's race. Deba finished in second place in both 2011 and 2013, leading for much of the race last year, and organizers were hoping that Sunday would be her chance to win it -- and end the local drought.
It wasn't. Deba fell out of the lead group after about 20 miles, and her time of 2:31:40 was more than six minutes behind winner Mary Keitany of Kenya.
The Kenyans win every year, don't they?
Well, not every year, but Kenyans have won the past three men's races and the past two women's races. The only American champion in the past 32 years was Meb Keflezighi, who won the men's race in 2009. Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea but moved to California as a child and became an American citizen, finished fourth in Sunday's race.
New York race organizers consider Keflezighi to be one of their own. He has run the New York race nine times, and always professes his love for the city and the race. But they would love to have someone who actually lives in New York win the race, even once.
No one has, at least not since the New York City Marathon became a five-borough event in 1976.
"It would be fantastic," New York Road Runners president and race director Mary Wittenberg said this week. "For years, we dreamed of an American winning in New York. Now we dream of a New Yorker winning in New York."
At least a few Americans made it into the top 10 finishers in the men's race. Besides Keflezighi, Ryan Vail was ninth, and Nick Arciniaga was 10th.
"I'm proud we have three Americans in the top 10," Vail said. "I think we redeemed ourselves a little after last year, when I finished 13th and I was the top American."
As for New Yorkers, there was Kemal finishing 13th, Negash Abebe Duki finishing 18th, Harbert Okuti finishing 19th, James Kelly finishing 28th and Jerry Faulkner finishing 29th. In the women's race, besides Deba, there was Kate Pallardy, who describes herself as a "vegan athlete and stay-at-home NYC mama," who finished 20th.
That was it for local highlights, in a race that drew 50,881 runners.
Goucher struggles: Kara Goucher, the Queens-born runner who was hoping for a 2:28 finish in her return to marathon running, had trouble with Sunday's strong winds and ran a disappointing 2:37:03. "I got in a little over my head," said Goucher, still trying to come back from a foot injury. "I hit the wall for the first time in my career, and really struggled."
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsBilly Demong says Sunday's marathon was the most fun he's had in an athletic event since winning Olympic gold in 2010.
"It was all I could do to make it to the 66th Street stop," Demong said. "I couldn't even make it down the steps, so I waited for the elevator. It could have been the slowest elevator in the world and I was still going to wait for it.
"I tried to run 10 steps on the subway platform and I almost fell down."
It was a feeling like he had never had before, through all his races and competitions.
But that was kind of the way all of Sunday went for him.
"It was awesome," Demong said. "This may sound ridiculous, but that might be the most fun I've had in an athletic event since Vancouver. We came off the Verrazano Bridge and onto Fourth Avenue, and people started yelling my name."
He loved it. He loved every bit of it.
He even loved the end, even when he was trying to walk and his legs didn't want to go.
"It was awesome," he said.
Other names you know: Demong wasn't the only athlete from another sport who gave the marathon a try. Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki finished in 3:26:33, and former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber finished in 5:14:37.
Barber ran in support of New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia's PitCCh In Foundation, as did Sabathia's wife Amber and New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire's wife Alexis.
There was also a relay team of former NBA stars, with Dikembe Mutombo running the final leg.
"It was like a dream come true," Mutombo said. "After running on a basketball court for so many years, it was good to be outside and running."
The NBA group, which also included commissioner Adam Silver, Chris Mullin, Albert and Bernard King, Allan Houston and Charles Oakley, finished the course in 4:48:09, achieving its goal of breaking five hours.