Local woman trains to compete in scorching Badwater 135 ultra marathon

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - As if running in 90-degree heat isn't tough enough, try running in the hottest place in the country.

And not just a mile -- 135 miles at the end of July.

That's what a handful of Cincinnati runners will be doing.

FOX19 NOW spoke to the only female from the area heading to California next month to compete in the Badwater ultra-marathon.

Melanie Owen is training for the longest, most grueling race of her life -- the Badwater 135.

"It's something that you need to work up to," Owen said. "I've been wearing two layers of clothing with a sauna suit to kind of simulate 125 degrees Fahrenheit."

The 135-mile continuous footrace takes place July 23-25 beginning in Death Valley, California, one of the hottest places in the world.

Owen will have four crew members monitoring her health and nutrition along the way.

"When I'm in the desert there's no humidity so I'm going to be sweating a lot but I'm not going to feel it because it's going to evaporate immediately," Owen said.

She says she first got the idea to run Badwater from her friend and running coach, Harvey Lewis.

Lewis is a former Badwater winner and an elite runner himself. He helped Owen create an impressive running resume, getting her into the Badwater race.

Out of 2000 applicants, only 100 get selected. Out of those, 33 are women.

"I am very proud about that and actually it kind of motivates me to do extremely well in the race," Owen said.

Owen recently ran a 100-mile race in Florida to prepare for the heat she will face in California.

What's her favorite ultra marathon that she's  done up to this point?

"By far Keys 100," she said. "I went un-crewed, I had my backpack and went from Key Largo to Key West, and my husband met me at mile 99."

It's important to train not only your body for this type of race, but your mind too.

"It's hard to believe this but when I have a low point, I will count to 100 and I'm able to continue counting over and over again. It takes my mind off of any pain that I have and I just keep moving forward," Owen said.

Owen's goal is to finish the 135 mile race in under 40 hours.

"At the end you get a belt buckle that says that you're a Badwater finisher, and I will be very happy to come back to Cincinnati and to show everyone my belt buckle."

If she finishes the run in the desert, Owen will also be wearing a big smile on her face -- and, let's face it, a few blisters too.

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