Louisiana runners return home after competing in world’s toughest ultra-marathon

Louisiana runners return home after competing in world’s toughest ultra-marathon
This is what waits at the finish line for those who take on the world's toughest foot race, Badwater 135. (Source: Jean Aponte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Three Louisiana ultra-marathon runners have returned home from participating in the world’s toughest foot race.

Walker Higgins and Jean Aponte both crossed the finish line of Badwater 135. The path started in the Badwater Basin which is 280 feet below sea level. The journey will take them to the Mount Whitney portal, which has an elevation of 8,360 feet.

Gabby Loubiere Higgins and Walker Higgins on the final 6 miles of the 135 mile ultra-marathon.
Gabby Loubiere Higgins and Walker Higgins on the final 6 miles of the 135 mile ultra-marathon. (Source: Gabby Loubiere Higgins)

Each runner had a crew to help them through the 135-mile journey. Gabby Loubier Higgins, Walker’s wife, was there by his side.

“I cannot even begin to describe the last 30 hours. Still 10 miles to go. This has been tough. Walker Higgins is exhausted. We all are. About 4 hours we think to finish this insane climb. I’m going to cry for for 5 days,” she posted to Facebook.

Higgins came in 25th and Aponte finished at 34th.

“Definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Aponte said.

Jean Aponte on the trail of Badwater 135.
Jean Aponte on the trail of Badwater 135. (Source: Jean Aponte)

“I feel accomplished...it takes a great deal of work to even meet the requirements to apply for the race, so it’s a good feeling to see years of training and effort come to fruition.

“I feel a great deal of gratitude as well, gratitude for the people around me who helped me get to the start and finish, and thankful for the opportunity to be able to compete in events like this.”

Derek Dowell also participated, but did not complete the race.

“My 2019 Badwater ended in a DNF. I could list a laundry list of valid excuses about why I didn’t make it, but I will spare you of that. A wise old Marine once told me that if If’s and But’s were candy and nuts then every day would be Christmas. Bottom line is that no one pulled me from the course, I pulled myself.”

This year’s winner was Yoshihiko Ishikawa. He completed the race Tuesday in 21 hours 33 minutes 1 second, which broke the previous record set in 2016.

Only 200 runners were allowed to participate in this ultra-marathon.
Only 200 runners were allowed to participate in this ultra-marathon. (Source: Jean Aponte)

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