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Kiwi Glenn Sutton ready for the world's toughest footrace

Kiwi Glenn Sutton ready for the world's toughest footrace

The Badwater 135 Ultramarathon is dubbed the world's toughest footrace for good reason: it's 217km of endurance running in temperatures expected to be in the early 40°C range.

That makes training extra challenging when you're coming from a Dunedin, New Zealand, winter with temperatures in the 0-10°C range. But for Glenn Sutton, a 40-year-old, father of three, you do what any good cabinetmaker would – you build yourself a heat box to train in. He's hoping that all pays off at 7am on Monday, July 21, when he starts his biggest endurance test yet in Lone Pine, California – halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, USA, smack in the middle of desert country.

"I've just spent nine days in Darwin in 30°C-plus temperatures to help acclimatise," he explains. "It's been a bit of a stepping stone for me from Dunedin to Badwater."

Glenn said the temperatures in Lone Pine were already around 41-42°C at 2-3pm.

"I'd like to think my heat box work will help. From what I have been told, running in the heat box is worse than the actual road. There is no airflow in the box, so I'm hoping the race might be a bit easier," he laughs.

Glenn said he had completed sessions of up to two hours in the heat box and would lose about 2kg during that time.

"For the actual race my support team will have scales with them and I will weight myself. If I lose anymore than four kg I will be worried and if I gain anymore than 1kg I'll be concerned also.If you start to retain water you can get yourself into trouble."

Glenn said he had received a lot of support for the race through family, work and friends. He felt he was ready.

"I'm itching to go. The time is right now. I just want to get into it."

He said he was not nervous at all because he felt as though he had done as much as he could to prepare himself.

"I've been consistent with my training since the middle of February when I found out my entry had been accepted for the race."

Glenn was the only Kiwi competing this year, but said that didn't add any extra pressure.

"I'm just going to have fun and meet different people and to take in the scenery. It will be a one-off for me ... although I'd like to beat the two Aussies," he laughs.

"I think I maybe have an edge to someone who hasn't had to run in snow in 1 or 2°C. Who knows, I'm hoping I have some edge somewhere," he smiles.

A lot can go through a person's mind over 217km, but Glenn welcomed the dark times.

"I'm looking forward to those times – that's when I really kick in – when it becomes a mental game. I'm looking forward to feeling the pain because it is going to happen – there are going to be some ugly times out there, but if I can stay positive and keep pushing I'll be okay. It's obviously not an impossible event, but there are a selected few that get the chance to run it so I will certainly be giving it my best."

At those times when he was at rock bottom, Glenn said he thought about his family and that brought him through.

Glenn will start in the second wave of runners on Monday morning and expected to go through three pairs of shoes during the course of the race.

"The shoes I will finish in will be a size bigger than the others, because my feet will swell up that much during the race," he adds.

Glenn's support team of Scott Wilson, Rob Cunningham and Mark Murdoch will also be on hand with an ice bath to help lower his core temperature throughout the race.


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