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Death Valley puts brakes on running, cycling races

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POSTED December 23, 2013 9:10 p.m.

DEATH VALLEY (AP) — The Badwater 135, a sweat-lathered, endurance race that runs through the hottest place in the world in the middle of the summer will be taking a detour in 2014 after Death Valley National Park placed a moratorium on cycling and running competitions until it can determine how safe they are.

No timetable was given for the park's safety study, which was announced in a brief notice on Death Valley's website.

"We want to make it clear, we're not canceling or banning any events," Death Valley spokeswoman Cheryl Chipman said Monday. "At the moment we're just not taking any more applications for them until we finish our safety evaluation."

One event already scheduled will be allowed to go on as planned, she said.

Chris Kostman, whose AdventureCorps sponsors the Badwater 135 and several other endurance competitions in the sprawling desert park each year, said he's had to reschedule and move several of them for 2014. He questioned the need for a safety review, adding his organization has held 89 events in the park since 1990 without a serious incident.

"There have been no deaths, no car crashes, no citations issued, and only a few evacuations by ambulance after literally millions of miles covered on foot or by bike by event participants," he said in an email to supporters.

The Badwater 135 is perhaps the best known of AdventureCorps endurance events. It's a 135-mile run that begins in Death Valley's Badwater Basin, which at 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in North America.

It continues across a barren desert where summer temperatures can top 130 degrees, going on to take runners across three mountain ranges. It finally ends near the 8,300-foot level of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48 states.

 

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