Oswaldo Lopez of Madera once again found his stride at the 2015 Nutrimatix Badwater Ultramarathon, finishing second in the endurance race for a fourth time.
A year after failing to finish the race for the first time since his debut in 2009, the 43-year-old covered the 135-mile course from Death Valley National Park to the Mount Whitney trailhead in 25 hours, 28 minutes, 32 seconds despite temperatures that reached as high as 114 degrees.
It was the sixth top-three Badwater finish in seven years for Lopez, who won the race in 2011 and was runner-up also in 2009, ’10 and ’12 and third in ’13.
Lopez dropped out of the race after 75 miles last year, when it was held on a new course outside Death Valley while the park conducted a risk assessment study.
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“Everything was perfect this year,” Lopez said Thursday afternoon. “I got a good start and my body responded well during the race. I feel really good about how I ran.”
Lopez said he met every goal, though he did fall short of his dream of winning Badwater once more.
Pete Kostelnick, a 27-year-old financial analyst from Lincoln, Nebraska, was first among the field of 97 runners in 23:27:10.
“I’m still happy with how I ran,” Lopez said. “Everyone at Badwater trains for this one race. It’s an honor to be around such hard-working competitors. Pete ran a great race.”
After seven tries at Badwater and six successful trips to the podium, Lopez is ready for a change of scenery, saying he possibly won’t return next year.
“I’m not leaving for good. I just want to keep my options open,” he said. “I’d like to try something longer.”
Mick Thwaites of Australia was third in 26:23:10. Fellow Australian Nikki Wynd was the fastest woman at Badwater, finishing fourth overall in 27:23:27.
Defending women’s champion Alyson Venti and overall course record holder Valmir Nunes did not finish.
The race started Tuesday night at Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level and ends at Whitney Portal, about 8,300 feet above sea level. Runners had a 48-hour cutoff time, ending at 8 p.m. Thursday.
OSWALDO LOPEZ AT BADWATER
- 2009: Second
- 2010: Second
- 2011: First
- 2012: Second
- 2013: Third
- 2014: DNF
- 2015: Second