Soldiers train for physical readiness, peacekeeping missions, war and for whatever the president may call upon them. However some soldiers train to go above and beyond.
Cpl. Douglas Long, a radio and communication security repairer with Forward Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is one of those soldiers.
Recently, Long trained for and completed “Badwater,” an ultramarathon covering 135 miles in Death Valley, Calif.
Being accepted to compete in the Badwater race was a difficult task on its own. Runners have to submit a written application and must have completed three 100-mile ultramarathons within three years.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Long said. “Receiving the congratulations email was like winning the lottery. It was better than winning the lottery.”
An ultramarathon is any marathon that covers more than the typical 26.2 miles — it’s typically more than 50 miles.
The 2013 Badwater race was July 15-17 and only allowed 100 participants. Long finished 10th with a time of 29 hours, 34 minutes and 44 seconds.
The race was 135 miles of nonstop running from Death Valley to Mount Whitney, Calif., where Long endured temperatures of up to 130 degrees.
But his road to Badwater began before he enlisted in the Army in 2003.
While attending high school in Cheyenne, Wyo., he ran with the cross-country team, where his coach was Brent Weigner.
Weigner is the world record holder for running an ultramarathon on each of the continents within 267 days in 1999.
“(Weigner) was my inspiration for running,” Long said.
After enlistment, Long was stationed in his home state of Hawaii at Wheeler Army Airfield. This is also where he trained for and completed his first ultramarathon; the HURT 100.
“I just really wanted to test myself,” he said. “It just really called to me, there’s just something about it.”
While stationed in Hawaii he joined with the HURT, and ran it twice. The second followed a one-year tour to Iraq.
Long said some of the soldiers were ready to redeploy and hang out, but he was just ready to run.
While deployed to Iraq, Long’s desire to run stayed with him and he ran a biathlon at Camp Speicher.
Long said running marathons and ultramarathons has helped him to be a better Soldier and a better person.
“Ultrarunners are know for being meticulous planners,” he said. “ How well you plan the gear you take, the water you take, makes other things in life easier.”
In 2011, Long was assigned to Fort Hood and soon competed in the Hard Rock 100 in southwest Colorado, which has a total elevation change of 67,984 feet or just less than 13 miles.
Now that Long has completed the Badwater Race, he has set his sights on ultra-cycling and attaining the Death Valley Cup.
The Death Valley Cup recognizes athletes who complete two specific types of ultras; Badwater and an ultra-cycling race known as Furnace Creek.
Only 20 people in the world have earned the cup, according to its website.
Long needs to finish the Furnace Creek 508 bicycle race to achieve the cup. The ride crosses 10 mountain passes and stretches through the Mojave Desert. Throughout the ride, there is a total elevation gain of 35,000 feet or about 6.6 miles.
To qualify for Furnace Creek, Long completed two other ultracycling events.
Supporting him through all his endeavors are his wife, Katelyn, and two children.
“It’s a sacrifice on his part and our part,” she said. “I am very supportive, but he gets too stressed out toward the end of his training so I make sure to tell him when he’s doing too much.”
The corporal’s leadership was highly supportive of him throughout all his training and racing as well.
“It was a big deal for us; myself and the commander,” said 1st Sgt. Milton Moody, former first sergeant for Long and current first sergeant for the support company. “He influenced a lot of us and we kind of put him on display to show that if you put the time and the effort into something you enjoy doing you’re going to be successful at it.”
Long will continue to train and attempt the Furnace Creek in October and push for his chance at the Death Valley Cup.