Globally recognized as the toughest race of its kind, the Badwater Ultramarathon is a pure athletic challenge of athlete, shoes, and support crew versus a brutal 135 mile stretch of highway, a hellish environment of up to 130 degrees, and a sixty hour time limit. From the start line in the bowels of Death Valley to the finish line high on Mt. Whitney, this one-of-a-kind foot race offers the promise of a supremely personal achievement along with international accolades for those who rise to the occasion. A true "challenge of the champions," the Badwater Ultramarathon pits approximately up to ninety of the world’s toughest athletes – runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers – against one another and the elements. The time limit is 60 hours, but for those whose finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater belt buckle.
Established in 1997, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is a unique organization that recognizes the athletic greatness inherent in all people with physical challenges and supports their athletic endeavors by providing grants for training, competition and equipment needs. Grants are awarded for a wide range of physical challenges, across the entire spectrum of sport. CAF does not discriminate by age, disability, sport or level of ability. The hundreds of athletes assisted by CAF range from world class athletes competing on an international level to those who are recently disabled and are intent on becoming more active. It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation to provide opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. The Challenged Athletes Foundation believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.
CAF grew out of a desire to assist one athlete – trailblazing below-knee-amputee endurance racer Jim MacLaren – who suffered a devastating second accident while competing in a triathlon. Hit by a car during the bike leg, Jim was paralyzed from the neck down. His many friends quickly decided to raise funds for his recovery, and organized the first San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC) – an annual fundraising triathlon event at La Jolla Cove. From this modest beginning arose a more important mission – to make sure that people with physical challenges have the same freedom to enjoy sports that the rest of us take for granted.
Since 1994, CAF has raised more than $19 million – allowing the Foundation to satisfy thousands of funding requests from challenged athletes in all 50 states and dozens of countries. Whether it’s a $2,000 handcycle, helping underwrite a running prosthetic or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar injury, CAF’s mission is clear: give those with the desire to live active, competitive lifestyles every opportunity to compete in the sports they love. At the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece 45 of the 235 participating U.S. athletes (almost 20 percent) were supported by CAF. More recently at the 2006 Winter Paralympic Games in Torino, Itlay, CAF supported 23 of the 56 (41 percent) participating U.S. athletes.