Pinoy survives world’s toughest foot race

By Yvee Tadeo Guevarra, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

LOS ANGELES – Fifty six year old Benjamin Gaetos who runs to relieve stress has become the first Filipino to survive what is touted as the most difficult footrace in the world in the recently concluded 36th annual Badwater Ultramarathon.

Also known as the ‘challenge of the champions,’ the 135-mile race is set during the peak of summer in July in Death Valley, the hottest area in Northern California where temperatures reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
“My secret training is I’ve gone to the sauna almost every day since February, staying there from 20 minutes up to one hour to feel the heat,” Gaetos said.

With a little over 44 hours of non-stop running over 3 three mountain ranges and a total vertical ascent of 13,000 feet, Gaetos who suffered from swollen ankles outran 32 other runners, 15 of whom did not finish. He placed 64th out of the 96 participants.

“In this race, it doesn’t matter whether you came from, what economic circumstances you’re in or whether you’re a minority. Anyone can reach the top. You can compete with the same level as everybody as long as you do your homework,” he pointed out.

Only 100 runners from around the world are invited to this event based on their experience completing other difficult races, which for Gaetos included the Bataan Memorial Death March and 116 other marathons and ultra marathons.

On top of that he also mentors other runners and regularly sends shoes and clothes to charities in the Philippines.

This runner who has conquered the toughest foot race in the world believes all these would not have been possible without the help of loved ones and kababayans.

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