I photographed Marshall three times running in the Badwater 146, an amazing ultramarathon race from the lowest point in the 48 states (-282 feet below sea level, Badwater, Death Valley National Park) to the highest point in the lower 48 (14,505 feet above sea level, Mt Whitney, Sequoia National Park). The race is run in mid-July when temperatures are at their hottest – the three years I covered the event, at 6pm, the start of the race, temperatures were recorded at 118°F, 121°F, and 126°F (note- temperatures are measured in shade or underground). I didn’t think the human body was capable of completing a race like this, but a few dozen men and women proved it was possible.
The year I shot this image, Marshall had a near death experience mid way through the race, and in talking to him as we hiked up the last 12 mile section toward the summit of Mt. Whitney, he described some of the hallucinations he was having as in came in and out of reality. Most people think these athletes are out to kill themselves, but that is far from their goal – from my understanding, it’s about pushing their own limits, and finding a peace in that challenge.
I got to know Marshall over the years, covering him again in a few adventure races such as the Eco-Challenge. I can truly say he’s a kind, caring, humble person who’s performed some of the most amazing feats of running by any human being – someone who should be a household name but isn’t – at least not yet. This book covers the 52 days he ran across the United States – over 3000 miles, at the age of 57 – 52 days in a row that is- unbelievable.
Marshall live in Colorado and continues to run at the age of 62. If you are into running or just looking for a good read, check his book out: http://marshallulrich.com/runningonempty.htm
On a side note, another great running book to consider is Martin Dugard’s To Be a Runner: http://www.martindugard.com/. I traveled with Marty around the world a number of times covering some adventure races- he wrote about the events and I photographed them. Another good guy as well as an experienced author.