The Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon is hard enough.
It starts in Badwater, Death Valley, at 280 feet below sea level, crosses the desert, gains altitude to the town of Lone Pine, at 3,700 feet, and finishes at the Whitney Portal, 8,360 feet above sea level. A torturous 135- mile race.
But John Radich plans on more when the race begins next Sunday. The 50-year-old Monrovia resident will not be stopping at the portal, the launching spot for those climbing Mount Whitney, at 14,494 feet, the highest mountain in the continental U.S. Radich plans on running to the top of the peak and then continue on the John Muir Trail to Yosemite National Park, an additional distance of about 211 miles.
In about a week, Radich hopes to run approximately 350 miles, going from the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere to one of the highest points on the continent. From where summer temperatures regularly hit 120 degrees to where it has been known to snow in the middle of the summer.
"It's something I've wanted to do,' Radich says of continuing on past the portal.
Radich has run more than 150 ultramarathons in the last 25 years. This will be his fifth Badwater race, and not the first time he has tried continuing on. Last year, he reached Mount Whitney, but decided to not continue.
Al Arnold started the Badwater Ultramarathon in 1977 when he ran from Badwater to the Whitney summit. Now, about 10 percent of the race's finishers continue to the peak.
But after reaching Whitney, Radich will run through the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park, Inyo National Forest, Devils Postpile National Monument, the John Muir and and Ansel Adams wilderness areas and finally finish at Yosemite's Happy Isles campground in Yosemite Valley. The trip includes 12 climbs of more than 1,500 feet to passes, including a 3,000-foot climb to 13,500-foot Forester's Pass and 4,000-foot climb to Muir Pass from Palisades Creek. He says he hopes to accomplish the feat in less than a week, averaging more than 30 miles per day.
Radich says he has heard a German ultramarathoner has completed the course, but the Monrovia man thinks he will be the first American.
"It's something difficult to do,' he said. "It's a good challenge for me, and it challenges the human condition.'