Navy SEAL Conquers Death Valley

SAN DIEGO (NNS) — A U.S. Navy SEAL finished third out of 84 competitors from all over the world in the Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon July 24. Touted to be the toughest foot race in the world, the run spans 135 miles through Death Valley, Calif., during the worst of the desert’s summer heat.

Sonarman 1st Class (SEAL) David Goggins began the race on the morning of July 23 at 282 feet below sea level in the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in America. The grueling foot race was run along highways all the way up Mount Whitney to the highest point in the continental United States.

Goggins crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 25-hours 49-minutes and 40 seconds beating his 2006 race time by a more than four hours. Last year, he finished the race in fifth place.

“The weather was a lot cooler than last year but that’s not what made the difference,” said an exhausted Goggins. “I’m just more experienced and in better shape.”

The average competitor completed the 135-mile journey in 48 hours. Runners still on the course 60 hours after the start were disqualified.

“Goggins had a phenomenal run here finishing four hours faster than last year, placing third,” said race director Chris Koster. “He crossed the finish line 100 percent depleted. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an athlete who gave 100 percent like he did.”

Goggins attributed his success to his team’s outstanding support throughout the race.

“I mean you saw them out there on that mountain, they were coming off the car and sponging me down,” he said. “They worked their butt off for me out there and it showed by the time I had.”

Goggins became a Navy SEAL in 2000 and in 2004, deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He began running ultramarathons to raise awareness and money for the Navy Sea Warrior Foundation which benefits families of fallen SEALs.

Goggins said his training as a Navy SEAL has helped him develop an ability to push himself beyond the average person’s limit, but admits anyone who wants it bad enough and trains hard enough could run an ultramarathon.

“Next year we want every branch service represented in the event, that would be a phenomenal showdown,” said Koster.

So far in 2007, the Navy SEAL has completed nine ultramarathons and by year’s end, hopes to raise that total to 15. The record for the most ultramarathons in one year is 23 races. Goggins hopes to break that record in 2008.

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