See my short video version of the BR135:
Part 1 (17min)Part 2 (2 min)
News article published about my experience at the 2008 BR135 Ultra Marathon
Jarom Thurston, of Payson, Utah just returned from Brazil after competing in Brazil's, and probably one of the world's most difficult endurance races called the BR 135. With a distance of 135 miles and covering over 30,000 total feet of elevation gain and loss, this race occurs each year in January through the beautiful Serra Da Mantiqueira mountain ranges during Brazil's rainy season.
Jarom covered the 135 miles in 45 hours and 43 minutes, placing 7th overall in a field of 41 runners from several different countries. Conditions were very wet, rainy, and muddy, and of the 41 who started the race, only 27 finished and three of those who finished the course missed the 60-hour cut off time. The winning time was 30:18:00, by Adilson, a local of the mountainous region.
Unlike some of the other runners, Jarom didn't have this luxury of a support crew. He ran the 217 kilometer course solo with just a backpack on his back and several water bottles. He took money to buy meals on the road and restock when he needed and it was not against the rules to get aid or food from other runner's crews, which he did on occasion and was grateful for their help. Jarom commented that the race organization was fantastic and the 3,000+ markings on the course made it difficult to get lost, though some runners did. There were three manned Aid Stations with showers, beds, and hot food, which helped a lot.
Jarom described the difficulties he encountered in the race as follows: "The most difficult challenge was probably my very wet feet from the hours and hours of down-pouring rain. There were areas we had to run in muddy streams and unavoidable puddles of water covering our shoes completely. By the morning of day two my feet were really bad. Blisters the size of large grapes everywhere, but the real pain came from the cracks opening up in the thick white sole of my feet. My saving grace was super glue, of all things."
Jarom laughs now at how he remembers trying to cover the last 25 miles of the race during the 2nd night on only 45 minutes of sleep at one of the aid stations. He remembers going into states of delirium several times were he lost track of what he was doing. "There were times that I didn't even remember what I was doing or that I was participating in a race at all. I remember thinking I was in some kind of treasure hunt and I spent a lot of time stopping and looking around the side of the dirt path for treasures. I didn't know what I was supposed to find, but I was sure I was supposed to look for something."
Reaching the finish line in a small Brazilian town called Paraisopolis was an emotional moment he says. "I don't think there was anyone who completed the race that didn't cry tears of joy and pain at the finish line". The BR135 covers part of the well-known Caminho da Fe, a Brazilian Pilgrimage Path that is traveled by hundreds of Christian pilgrims each year. "I felt the spirit of the Path of Faith (translation of the Caminho da Fe) and believe that it was my own personal pilgrimage. I learned more about myself in those 45 hours then most people learn in a lifetime. That's why I love this sport."
When one asks Jarom why he wanted to run the 135 miles in such difficult conditions, his reply would be, "To qualify for the Badwater Ultra marathon, of course!" He had gone to help some of his Brazilian athlete friends at the 2007 Badwater event last July, where he was a Pacer (one who runs part of the course with the athlete providing moral support and setting the pace for the runner) for Monica Otero, the first ever Brazilian and even South American woman to finish the 135 miles in the desert. It was such a neat experience that he promised himself to one day qualify and run the same race across the Mojave Desert. His dream may come true now that he has completed the BR135. His application for Badwater was submitted just two days after completing the race in Brazil. He now awaits the release of the list of 80-90 athletes who will be selected to run Badwater this July 2008.
Me arriving in Estiva(mile 108 of 135)
BR135 on Brazilian TV
Video from 2007: