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Japanese runner breaks Badwater course record, then proposes to his girlfriend

The women's winner, Patrycja Bereznowska of Poland, also smashed the women's course record, finishing second overall

Badwater 135

Yoshihiko Ishikawa of Japan has won the Badwater 135 ultramarathon through California’s Death Valley, breaking Pete Kostelnick’s course record of 21:56:32, set in 2016, with his 21:33:01 finish yesterday. But Ishiakawa had other things on his mind besides smashing his race: when it was over he got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. (She said yes.)

The female winner, Patrcycja Bereznowska of Poland, was second overall, finishing in 24:13:24 and smashing the women’s course record previously set by Alyson Venti (also in 2016) of 25:53:07 by almost an hour and 40 minutes.

The second male (finishing third overall) was Harvey Lewis of the US in 26:11:18, and third was Tetsuo Kiso of Japan in 28:02:04. The second female was Gina Slaby, a former US 100-mile record-holder, and third was Lisa DeVona, in 32:36:17.

Kostelnick, the former course record-holder who raced again this year, appears to be still on the course.

Ishikawa and Bereznowska are both Spartathlon winners (a race with similar challenges in terms of extreme temperatures and elevation), Ishikawa in 2018 and Bereznowska in 2017, when she set a new course record. (Spartathlon is the 246K race from Athens to Sparta in Greece.) Ishikawa is also the current IAU 24-hour world champion.


The famously difficult race starts at Badwater in Death Valley 85m below sea level (the lowest elevation in North America), taking runners 135 miles (216K) through Death Valley and up Mount Whitney, reaching 2,548m of altitude at its highest point. Temperatures have been known to soar well above 100 F (37 C). The cutoff time is 48 hours, and the average finishing time is 40 hours.

As of this writing, 17 runners have finished, 68 runners remain on the course and 10 runners have dropped out. Check out the results, here.