Finishing the 135-mile Badwater ultramarathon course is a grueling and impressive athletic feat. Finishing the "world's toughest footrace" course, and then turning around and finishing it again, and again, and again is just plain superhuman.
If any runner out there is superhuman, it's 54-year-old Lisa Smith-Batchen. She has competed in nine Badwater Ultramarathons, finishing as women's champion in 1997 and 1998. She has also finished the Marathon des Sables (across the Moroccan Sahara) twice, being the first and only female at the time to win the event in 1999.
Smith-Batchen began her solo "quad-Badwater" race on July 1. On July 15, after braving flash flood warnings, hallucinations, and windstorms up to 50 mph, she finished. Park alerts for extreme summer heat are currently in affect. But when the going got tough—and by tough we mean steady temperatures in the 120s and a pack of coyotes following her with hungry eyes—Smith-Batchen got tougher.
Smith-Batchen, who is no stranger to running for a purpose, ran the 584 total miles to raise money for Badwater4GoodWater, an organization she founded to increase clean water around the world. She ran 40 to 50 miles per day during the two-week endeavor. "I had in my head that every mile run would help 1,000 people. I'd do three miles and think, 'Three thousand people. I can do this,'" she told Runner's World.
Smith-Batchen raised enough money to build at least 10 wells in Africa.