Tag - Badwater

The Challenge of Badwater 135 miler 2016


For immediate release

For more information, contact:

Alice Hunter Morrison, Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, a writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants, 8000 miles across Africa by bike” and Special Correspondent to Hope So Bright [email protected]

The Challenge of Badwater
Running America’s toughest race for awareness of Autism
July 21, 2016
(Manhattan Beach, CA)
Mohamad Ahansal is a Moroccan Berber from the desert town of Zagora. He is a five-time champion of the Marathon des Sables, the six-day race across the Saharan Desert. This year, for the first time, he took on the challenge of STYR Lab’s Badwater® 135 in the USA, running for IRun4Ultra to raise awareness about autism.
The STYR Labs Badwater® 135 covers 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. It is the most demanding and extreme one-stage running race offered anywhere on the planet. The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level and boasts some of the hottest temperatures in the world. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m). The Badwater® 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent.
Before he started the race, Ahansal said, “Running for IRun4Ultra gives this race special meaning for me. It is going to be very difficult, very tough with the heat and the elevation. I have never run this far in one go, but I believe that when you take on something so hard and give it everything and push through it to help children with difficulties; it is worth the suffering.”
The elite wave of runners for Badwater, including Ahansal, set off at 2300 PST, Monday, July 18. At the first checkpoint at 17 miles, he was lying in 12th place and was running strong. However, trouble started to kick in over the next 20 miles and his position dropped to 25th with a time of 7 hrs 17 min at 41 miles.
His knees, first the left and then the right, were failing as he was not accustomed to running on tarmac and he was wearing new shoes.  His luggage had been lost at Los Angeles International Airport.  As he pounded down an eight-mile descent, he was forced to confront the fact that he was facing long-term damage to his knees unless he gave up. He made that heartbreaking decision at 73 miles, with just over 62 miles to go.
“He gave it everything he had,” said Linda Sanders, Founder of IRun4Ultra, “ We couldn’t ask any more of him. Ahansal is a true champion and great desert runner but Badwater is a massive challenge and, this time, it was not to be. He has made us proud and, most importantly, he has helped tremendously in our mission to raise awareness of the problems of autism.”  Will he be back? “I hope so,” said Ahansal, “Next year, God willing!”
About Mohamad Ahansal
Mohamad Ahansal is a Moroccan Berber from the town of Zagora in the Sahara in the south of Morocco. He started running competitively in his teens but as a young boy he ran to and from school every day (7K each way) so, his conditioning started early. He and his elder brother, Lahcen, have won the Marathon des Sables 15 times between them. Ahansal has just taken first place at the Iranian Silk Road Ultramarathon.
About Hope So Bright and I Run 4 Ultra
Mohamad Ahansal ran as an IRun4Ultra Ambassador for Hope So Bright.  Linda Sanders founded Hope So Bright, a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity foundation in 2012, to provide financial support to nonprofit organizations who offer programs and services to disadvantaged, underserved and at-risk youth. The current goal of Hope So Bright, for the next several years, is to promote awareness, collaboration, education, resources and advocacy for children with learning disabilities, particularly autism syndrome and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with special consideration given to the underserved.  IRun4Ultra uses the sport of ultrarunning to promote those goals. For more information visit:  https://hopesobright.org.  To watch the sizzle reel for the ADHD documentary filmed at Marathon des Sables please visit https://vimeo.com/155417209 .
About Autism
Autism is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities, which cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.
Hope So Bright’s 2016-17 Autism Awareness Campaign is focused on spreading awareness about the epidemic of Autism as well as the non-pharmaceutical behavioral programs that can effectively help children who exhibit symptoms.


The Challenge of Badwater 135 miler 2016


Moroccan Athlete to Run Hardest Marathon on Earth in California

Morocco world news

By Tatiana Flowers

Rabat – Mohamad Ahansal from JbelBani, Morocco, has been invited by the United States to run “Badwater,” one of the world’s toughest foot races in America.  

The nonstop race comprises 135 miles (217k) of mountainous terrain and it starts in one of the hottest climates in the world, in Badwater, Death Valley, California. The starting point is at 280 feet (85m) below sea level and finishes in Mount Whitney at 8,300 feet (2,530m).
Moroccan Athlete will run a total of three mountain ranges, spanning 14,600 feet (4,450m) vertically, and 6,100 feet (1,859m) in ascension. On July 18, 2016, he will compete against some of the strongest male and female marathoners in the world, running for an organization called “Hope So Bright,” which raises awareness of autism, affecting one in 10 American children.
“I will be doing my very last bit of training for Badwater here in Morocco with a fast run up our highest mountain. It will be a special run from Marrakech to Toubkal summit 4167m; 78 km with 4000 m+ climbing … We will be leaving on 9 July at 00:00 from Bab Rob in Marrakech if anyone would like to join,” Ahansal told Morocco World News.
Ahansal is a five-time champion of Marathon Des Sables, one of the hardest races on Earth and equivalent to six full marathons.
He and his brother, Lahcen, who is also an award-winning runner, had not started training until their late teens, but they would unknowingly become conditioned early, growing up in a high altitude with scorching temperatures, and mountainous terrain.  Each day, they ran 7 kilometers to and from school, or 4.3 miles in distance.
When Mohamad Ahansal was 17, he ran his first competition against other young men at the Eid Al-Ashor festival. He did not have running shoes, so he wore heavy football sneakers with improper soles. At the starting line, he realized his friends and competitors had proper running sneakers, so he decided to discard his own and run the race barefoot. He finished the race in second place, realizing for the first time, he had a tremendous ability.
Although Moroccan Athlete is well known for his capability of handling such tough foot races, he acknowledges the difficulty of Badwater.
“In a way, it was a crazy decision to sign up. It is almost the same distance, [as Marathon Des Sables] but Marathon Des Sables takes six days and Badwater is non-stop. I have never run this far in one go. Yes, the temperature will be the same, but the quality of the sun will be different. The altitude, the humidity, and the difference between the desert plain and the mountains are all factors. At the start, it is going to be very dry with lots of heat coming up from the ground, and then by the end, you are at high altitude. This is the difficulty,” he said.
Ahansal is internationally known for winning noteworthy, difficult races, including Marathon Des Sables, Fire and Ice, and The Iranian Silk Road. He has also created his own multi-stage race, called the Trans Atlas Marathon.
Last year, an American, Pete Kolstenick, won Badwater.  This year, Moroccan Athlete has a chance at bringing the victory home to Africa.


Cincinatti Running Hero Challenges for Desert Race

Cincinnati Running Hero Challenges for Desert Race

By Alice Hunter Morrison, Moroccan-based Journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, RunUltra, and Special Correspondent to Hope So Bright

April 5, 2016

Harvey Sweetland Lewis of Cincinnati, Ohio, the winner of the legendary US trail marathon, Badwater® 135, has joined four other top international athletes, Jason Schlarb (USA), Carlos Sa (Portugal), Marco Olmo (Italy), two-time winner of UTMB, and Ricardo Mejia Hernandez (Mexico), to run the team competition at the Marathon des Sables 2016.
They have been brought together by USA Ultra Runner, Linda Sanders, to create awareness of the plight of children suffering from ADHD. A staggering one in ten children in the USA is diagnosed with the condition. Their team name is I Run 4 Ultra.
The Marathon des Sables is called the Toughest Footrace on Earth. It is six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert. The middle marathon is a double. Temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees C. The terrain is arduous with endless miles of sand dunes and salt flats, interspersed with rocky trails. Competitors must be self-sufficient and carry all their own food and equipment for the week.
With his health and the environment as motivation, Lewis has run to work for most of his adult life: as a college student, a factory worker, and even a car salesperson (before he became a teacher). When interviewed after his 3:20 sprint finish at the inaugural Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon in 1999, Lewis joked: “I am the only car salesman in America who runs to and from work.”
Lewis often posts videos of his training strategies, races and his morning-after commutes to his Ultra Runner social media outlet, recounting the people who inspire him along the way while simultaneously holding himself accountable to his goals. Lewis encourages people to find a source of inspiration and pursue one’s dreams to the fullest.
Please find attached a full article and sample photographs. High-Resolution pictures are available on request through Dropbox. For interviews or additional information, please contact
• Erika Dial + 1 (310) 374-2862 [email protected]
• Linda Sanders or Lisa Enriquez + 1 (310) 374-2862 [email protected]
• For more information on Hope So Bright please visit www.hopesobright.org