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First-time Badwater 135 champions outlast Death Valley heat

Michele ‘Mickey’ Graglia, who was born in Italy and now lives in Los Angeles, captured the 2018 edition of the Badwater 135 when he crossed the finish shortly before midnight on Tuesday. The 34-year-old running coach/athlete took more than 9 hours off his 2016 time.
Michele ‘Mickey’ Graglia, who was born in Italy and now lives in Los Angeles, captured the 2018 edition of the Badwater 135 when he crossed the finish shortly before midnight on Tuesday. The 34-year-old running coach/athlete took more than 9 hours off his 2016 time. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Michele ‘Mickey’ Graglia ran an ultra in sub-40-degree weather less six months ago in the Yukon.

Yesterday, he experienced the fire of Death Valley and thrived to capture the overall title of the world’s toughest foot race.

The 34-year-old coach/athlete from Los Angeles was chased the final 50 miles by three runners -- Texan Jared Fetteroff, Colorado race director Don Reichelt, and, 2011 champion Oswaldo López of Madera. They finished in that order.

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Michele ‘Mickey’ Graglia gets his belt buckle and finisher’s shirt from Badwater 135 race director Chris Kostman around midnight. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

Graglia, who was born in Italy and gave a television interview in that language just past midnight Tuesday, clocked 24 hours, 51 minutes, 47 seconds.

“I pretty much nailed it,” said Graglia, who ran the 2016 Badwater edition in 34 hours, 10 seconds.

Fetteroff was about a dozen minutes behind; Reichelt about 75 minutes back; and López a little more than 2 hours behind.

“Oh my God! I just want to hug everyone right now,” said Graglia at Mt. Whitney portal, the end of a 135-mile race that began the night before at Badwater Basin.

“Oh, I want to throw up!” added Graglia, whose goal was to finish in the 24- 25-hour range.

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Madera mariachi trumpet player Oswaldo López heads towards Lone Pine on Tuesday afternoon on his way to a fourth-place finish in the 2018 Badwater 135. The 2011 champion timed 28:14.12. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

Graglia outlasted a field that included three recent champions (López, Pete Kostelnick and Harvey Lewis). However, Kostelnick dropped out after 78 miles due to severe cramping.

Lewis, who recently ran the 2,100 miles of the Appalachian Trail and finished last Thursday, moved to the 9:30 p.m. starting wave and ran on tired legs.

Grant Maughan, who won a 310-mile race in Tennessee last week, failed to challenge on tired legs.

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Australia’s Grant Maughan, who ran and won a 500-kilometer (310 miles) race in Tennesssee the week before, heads up to Panamint Springs at the 2018 Badwater 135. He finished the 135-mile race. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

The race, which started with 98 runners, saw 30 runners drop out of the race.

Guajardo’s feet up to the feat

Austin, Texas administrator Brenda Guajardo showed why she is one of the country’s best ultra runners.

The 41-year-old Guajardo placed fifth overall in 28:23:10 despite developing severe toe problems that saw her lose a toenail.

Guajardo built a 5-mile lead heading into Lone Pine, the 122-mile mark of the race, and cruised the rest of the way.

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Brenda Guajardo, a 41-year-old administrator from Texas, showed her consistency by clocking 28 hours, 23 minutes, 10 seconds to win the women’s division of the 2018 Badwater 135. She finsihed fifth overall. In 2016, she timed 28:40:13. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

Pam Smith, pathologist from Oregon, closed strong to finish sixth overall in 28:47:53. Smith is the 2013 women’s winner at the Western States 100.

More stories, photos: www.vidaenelvalle.com

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