It's considered one of the toughest races in the world and a Madera man is a proud medal-winner. Oswaldo Lopez recently took second place in the Badwater Ultra Marathon. It’s a 135 mile race that starts in Death Valley and ends at Mt. Whitney. Only 600 people in the world have finished the Badwater race and Lopez has done it four times. Tuesday, he took second place in 23 hours and 32 minutes.
“Now a little bit tired after the race but very happy for the place and the results we bring to the Central Valley,” said Lopez.
CBS47 caught up with him outside his Madera home on Thursday. He shows off his medals from four Badwater races; three second place finishes and one win. He has two goals in every race.
“Finish a race in good health, no injuries. Second option, finish in the first three persons. It's hard, but not impossible,” said Lopez.
Impossible is exactly how most people would describe Badwater. It’s 135 miles in temperatures above 110 degrees, all while climbing 15,000 feet in elevation.
“The heat specifically presents so many issues with dehydration and nutrition problems that it's difficult to physically get through the event,” said Kyle Cirrincione, an ultra marathon runner who works at Sierra Running Co.
He followed Lopez’s quest online and describes his achievement as amazing.
“If there was an all-time list for this event, [Lopez] would definitely be considered one of the best,” said Cirrincione.
Lopez credits his support crew, which is made up of six people who ride along side him in a van.
“Our main focus is to keep him cool and there's always a runner, after the first 20 miles, running with him,” said Miguel Suarez, who’s been on Lopez’s support crew the last three years.
Those who know Lopez say what sets him apart from other runners is not his legs, it's his mind.
“[Lopez has a] very positive attitude all the time,” said Suarez.
Running 135 miles is as much mental as it is physical. It's a grueling challenge some take on but few actually conquer.
“Pray before, pray during the race, and pray after,” said Lopez.
While many runners consider their sport their full time job, Lopez does construction, HAZMAT cleanup, and he plays in a mariachi band.