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13,000 ft. of vertical ascent
4,700 ft. of descent
in 135 miles

Breast Cancer Survivor Takes Second

Death Valley, CA
—Louise Cooper-Lovelace, of West Hills, California placed 2nd in her division and 13th overall in the Hi-Tec Badwater race through Death Valley, California. At 282 feet below sea level, this race took competitors non-stop from the sweltering heat of Death Valley, 135 miles to the cool mountaintop of the Mount Whitney trailhead (8360 ft.)

Beginning the race the morning of Thursday, July 15th, after enduring a four-hour postponement due to flash floods, Cooper-Lovelace and her support crew joined 43 runners from around the world in beginning the relentless, unforgiving trek across the desert floor. The long train of support vehicles followed slowly as runners paced themselves at three to six miles per hour in (by 11:30am), temperatures of 124°F. Watered down and rehydrated every quarter mile, many racers slowed their pace to a fast walk as they continued with fervent determination along the solid white line of the highway.

"By 4:45pm, temperatures had dropped to 119°F and a strong headwind made it difficult to see or keep a consistent pace..."

By 4:45pm, temperatures had dropped to 119°F and a strong headwind made it difficult to see or keep a consistent pace. Cool rain later fell, giving the racers a brief reprieve from the sweltering heat. Cooper-Lovelace, at this point in 19th place, was nine miles behind the overall lead and approximately eight miles from the first-place lead in the women's division. Having finally reached sea level and just 32 miles into the l35 mile race, the competitors' biggest battle was trying to keep hydrated, with food and water both hard to swallow because of sheer exhaustion.

By mid-morning Friday, Louise, having slept only about 15 minutes and having traveled 85 miles, had already reached an elevation of 4960 ft., only then to have to drop down to 1640 ft. and back up again to 5000 ft. By 6pm, despite temperatures still lurking around 111°F., spirits were up and many people were cheering Cooper-Lovelace on, as she continued to battle enduring fatigue, heat exhaustion and dehydration in her quest to reach the finish line.

By 9pm, Cooper-Lovelace had reached Lone Pine and was now on her way up the steep road to the Mt. Whitney trailhead. With only 13 miles left, Louise and her parade of supporters walked across the finish line at 2:14am, placing her 2nd in the woman's division and 13th overall in a race that took her 40 hours and 14 minutes to complete.

"It was an incredible experience! In spite of being told how boring it could be, and following the long white line for 135 miles, I was amazed at how beautiful everything was," Cooper-Lovelace, who was diagnosed with breast cancer one year ago, said from the finish.

A long-time Eco-Challenge and Raid Gauloises competitor, her reputation for determination and success has again proven itself, as Louise Cooper-Lovelace continues in the greatest battle of her life — overcoming breast cancer and continuing to race to raise money for such foundations as UCLA's Revlon Breast Center and the Christopher Reeve Foundation into spinal injuries.

Anne Wilson, Courtesy of C.S.M

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