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Badwater Ultramarathon – race through hell -
23rd to 25th July '07 - Death Valley, California

"The ULTRA couple" Dagmar Großheim & Achim Heukemes face up to the long road through hell. “The toughest footrace on earth!”: this is how participants and organizers describe the ultramarathon through Death Valley.
At the start, at 10 am, it was around 42 °C which is “quite cool” here for July; cloudy, pretty windy – pleasant starting conditions.
After 5 hours and 35 minutes, the first marathon has been completed. The race is over 135 miles long, the equivalent of around 5 ½ marathons from the deepest point in the US to the highest – not counting Alaska. Dagmar feels really good; the sun is shining brightly now and the temperature has gone up to a sizzling 52 °C. The crew knows each other well and runs like a well-oiled machine. And this is the Badwater we are familiar with – heat and sun!
After 38 hours, in the middle of the night, Dagmar turns onto the road leading to Lonepine. She is in incredibly good shape: both physically and mentally, absolutely great. She has not even changed her shoes once (other participants change their shoes up to ten times, or cut them open because of blisters, and aches and pains). Obviously, she is exhausted and under pressure, but she laughs and runs and runs and runs...
After 42 hours and 54 minutes, Dagmar and her crew run the last few metres together over the finishing line at Mt. Whitney Portal. She has achieved what she set out to do - finish in under 45 hours. It is early in the morning and the sun is slowly beginning to rise. She is applauded by spectators and organizers alike. Praise and recognition from all sides.
Achim Heukemes is waiting for her behind the finishing line. She is both surprised and excited to see him! Then we find out that Achim finished the evening before in just 33 hours and 2 minutes, the best German in the field.
He did not even take his shoes off once on the long road from Badwater to Whitney Portal, and so completed the race in a single pair of shoes! The excitement is great, but so is the exhaustion. We are pleased it is all over now. Dagmar and Achim have given an incredible performance and they both deserve our respect.
We made a contribution to this success with BÄR shoes and have shown that we have an exceptional product which can challenge the big international manufacturers! Neither Achim nor Dagmar have blisters on their feet, or any other problems for that matter.
Dagmar finished the race as best female German participant and also ran the best time ever by a German woman in this competition.

Badwater 2007

Decatriathlon World Champion (2006)

The exceptional German sportswoman Dagmar Großheim (44, European Champion in the Double Ironman 2005) has won the official women’s Decatriathlon World Championship in Vidauban / France. She swam 24 miles, cycled 1120 miles and then ran 262 miles in just 11 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes. The best German participant overall was ultramarathon runner Achim Heukemes (55), who was taking part in his first Triathlon ever. He finished in just 9 days, 19 hours and 34 minutes.
The two of them left the 25-metre pool just before dawn on 12th June 2006, having spent around 16.5 hours swimming a total of 1,520 lengths. That’s about the distance across the English Channel. They then jumped onto their racing bikes to start the gruelling 1120-mile bike ride. Five days were planned for this mammoth distance. Just to compare: the competitors in the Tour de France cover double the distance in three weeks. But Großheim and Heukemes were not actually finished at that stage.
They then had to run 262 miles (the equivalent of 10 marathons). Both ran around 60 miles a day relying totally on BÄR’s innovative new development, the HighPerformance 2.0. “The quality and particularly the amount of room BÄR guarantees your feet help us to cope with these distances without coming home with any notable injuries,” said Großheim after she crossed the finishing line. Heukemes added: “I took the HighPerformance 2.0 out of its box, put it on and have never had blisters or any other complaints that would have a negative influence on my performance.” For BÄR, it is an excellent opportunity to try out new developments under extreme conditions to see whether they are ready to go to market. Because there’s not a harder test lab for shoes in the world.

6-day race (2005)

The international 6-day race in Düsseldorf is the ideal venue to put a shoe through its paces: runners from 11 countries meet to run on a normal stadium track for 6-days virtually non-stop. The person who has covered the greatest distance at the end is the winner. Achim Heukemes ran distances of between 72 miles and 115 miles every day for six days. In total, he did 1,951 laps in BÄR shoes; that is a total of 488 miles.
Over the six days, the runners had to put up with sun, rain, cold, wind, mud and dust. You could not have a better environment for testing a shoe in a lab. Achim on BÄR shoes after 144 hours of running: "What I really like about the BÄR concept is the uncompromising TOE ZONE! It follows the natural lines of your foot and is thus particularly suitable for runners of my age (54), as well as any other age. I feel as fit as a fiddle in this shoe. My feet and I can rely totally on these shoes and that is extremely important for me!"

Namibia (2005)

Achim Heukemes after returning from Namibia: "The 100 miles were divided into five stages which I wanted to complete in four days. The first day, I ran 25 miles. The second day started with a 12-mile section during sunrise and ended with a further 9 miles that I ran as the sun set. I did the most difficult stage, which was the length of a marathon, on the third day. It actually went over two high sand dunes. On the final day, I had to run 22 miles. The highlight of this stage was the climb up the "crazy dune", the highest sand dune in the world at 310 m. The "Mount Everest" of the sand dunes so to speak. Now I know how mountain climbers feel when they are at the top of the world because I think I had the same feeling when I was at the top of the "crazy dune". Then I ran down 310 metres to start on the last section. I ran the whole race in the BÄR TransAustralia that I had already worn on the 2,855 miles from Perth to Sydney. I have experience in this shoe and although it was developed for running on roads, I always felt really good on the stony tracks and in the dunes. The heat did not bother my feet at all as the breathable fabric always ensured a good foot climate."

Crossing the hell of Australia (2005)

After 26 days, we finally received a call from Achim Heukemes by satellite telephone: "Finally, I am nearly in Adelaide and I’m pretty shattered with this insufferable heat. The 750 miles through the Nullabor Desert were the worst I have ever done. There was only one cloudy day out of 26; the rest of the time, the sun was absolutely merciless and I even got pretty bad sunburn in spite of my sun cream with top sun protection factor.
I went through hell, I’m not doing that again! The extremely high temperatures are not just a problem for your skin: your whole body cannot cool down, not even at night, which is why I ended up with heat trapped in my ankle, which was really swollen. But it will get better: you can actually see the bone again now.
I have cut my trainer’s clothes so that hardly any of my skin is exposed to the sun. Now I look like Elvis. But that doesn’t matter. We sing Elvis songs and that keeps spirits up and helps me forget the pain." After 26 days, Achim has already covered more than 1625 miles in over 350 running hours. He has run over 60 marathons for which he needed 3 pairs of the running shoes which were specially designed for him and this event. He has already used a litre of sun cream, SPF LSF 30+, and now weighs 6 kg less than he did when he started out. But in spite of the tough conditions, spirits are high and he is confident of reaching the finishing line in Sydney on 15th May 2005.

For more details, take a look at the log book at http://www.runforlife05.com.