Moments after he finished the 135-mile run from Death Valley to Mount Whitney, setting a record in the Badwater 135 race, Japanese ultra runner Yoshihiko Ishikawa dropped to one knee. The reason wasn’t fatigue or relief over the accomplishment. He was asking his girlfriend to marry him.
The Badwater race, one of the most prestigious and grueling ultras, started Monday at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest elevation in North America, and ended at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. The race covers three mountain ranges, with 14,600 feet of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100 of cumulative descent, according to its website. An ultra is anything longer than the traditional 26.2-mile marathon.
After Ishikawa’s memorable finish and proposal (she said yes), there were plenty of tears.
Last year, Ishikawa, a 31-year-old engineer, won the Spartathlon, tracing the 153-mile route that Pheidippides ran before the battle of Marathon, in 22:54:40.
Patrycja Bereznowska of Poland was the women’s Badwater winner (and second to Ishikawa overall) with a time of 24:13:24 that was more than 90 minutes faster than the record set by Alyson Venti three years ago. Bereznowska also won the Spartathlon, in 2017.
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