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  • Writer's pictureJoe Nail

Project 1310 | Episode 3: Death Valley

The typical response I received when telling people I would be running 1 of the 50 marathons in Death Valley in the middle of the summer was usually, “Why in the world would you do that?!” And that is precisely the point.

First, I was just so excited to attempt something that would be so hard. Imagine the dad and grandpa lore!

But second, this entire project is about honoring veterans & shining a light on the sacrifices they make.

Many veterans have had to withstand even more extreme conditions on deployment while also in full uniform, combat boots, and under the constant threat of enemy fire.

We arrived in LA from Honolulu, picked up the car, and headed to Death Valley. We arrived at Panamint Springs, a tiny desert town, after 2:30 AM.

When my alarm sounded, Garmin was quick to tell me that due to my 32 minutes of sleep and strain from Alaska and Hawaii, my training readiness was 1 out of 100. Perfect...

Then, when we went to fill up in gas, the gas pumps were all shut. We faced the potential that the support car would have to leave me mid-marathon to go back and refuel… double-perfect...

Nonetheless, we arrived at the start 30 miles West of the lowest and hottest point of the park, Badwater. I hopped out of the car, did my pre-race prayer, and took off.

Maybe it was the adrenaline that comes from doing something so wild, but I started that morning feeling incredible. Despite a 15mph headwind with heavy gusts, 7:30 miles were clicking by, and by 18 miles in, I was averaging 7:38 pace. But as the heat began to take full hold, things turned in a hurry.

20 minutes after being visibly bloated from the amount of water and Gatorade I was taking in, I was dangerously dehydrated - my urine having made a complete 180 from clear to a dark yellow. At every opportunity, I pounded water and liquid IV.

Miraculously, by mile 23, I was feeling even better than I had at mile 20. I was back to 7:30 for mile 26 and sub-6 for that last quarter mile. I finished feeling euphoric and immediately cranked out 50 push-ups.

3 marathons and 3,000 push-ups across AK, HI, and CA completed in 76 hours.


Time: 4 hours, 4 minutes (3:33 marathon).

Average HR: 149

Temperature: 96 degrees


Up next: Missouri



Over the course of 50 marathons, Joe will be running a total of 1,310 miles. Each and every mile will be dedicated to a veteran or service member nominated by this community.


In each of the 50 states, Joe will be running the marathon and completing the push-ups in an iconic location, from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and encouraging everyone to come out and walk or run a mile in honor of a veteran or service member who you know or admire. In each state, Joe and the crew will also be meeting and walking or running with local veterans groups and active military service members.


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