Death Valley calls

MAMMOTH TASK: Amy Campbell runs the Tarawera 100km. ‘‘I am so excited,’’ she says about her invitation to the 217km Badwater Ultra Marathon in the United States.
MAMMOTH TASK: Amy Campbell runs the Tarawera 100km. ‘‘I am so excited,’’ she says about her invitation to the 217km Badwater Ultra Marathon in the United States.

It gets so hot during the legendary Badwater ultra marathon that athletes' shoes melt - they're advised to run on the white line of the road.

Amy Campbell grew up in Kerikeri and is one of just 100 international runners invited to take part in the extreme endurance event.

She is the second New Zealand woman to have been selected in the history of the event.

Badwater, held in July of each year, is recognised globally as "the world's toughest foot race", pitting the toughest athletes - runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers - against one another and the elements.

The 217km route runs non-stop from Death Valley to Mt Whitney in California, with temperatures up to 55 degrees Celsius. There's a 48-hour time limit.

Known as the "most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet" this year's race is scheduled for July 15 to 17 - and Amy can't wait.

The former Kerikeri High School student says she has dreamed of running Badwater for many years.

"To submit an application into this event you are required to have run at least three 100 mile races, so over the past few years I have dedicated many hours to training and completing events with the hope of one day doing this race."

Amy has run four 100 mile races, one of them in the Glasshouse Mountains north of Brisbane where she placed second.

She also represented New Zealand last year at the World 24 Hour championships in Poland.

"We had to run around a 1.5km loop circuit starting at noon on a Saturday and finishing at noon on Sunday. Great fun. I managed to clock up 187km, placing first female on the NZ team."

Two weeks ago during a short event in Taupo, Amy was running from one end of the lake to the other, a distance of 67km when her support crew checked her phone.

"I had an email reading ‘Congratulations, you have been selected to run in the Badwater Ultra Marathon'. I went on to win the female race in a course record, I was that excited."

And so her journey begins.

Amy is now based in Auckland and has less than 20 weeks to prepare mentally and physically.

"Lisa Tamati is the only other woman from New Zealand to have completed this race so it is a huge honour to be invited to the start line," she says.

"We are required to take our own support crew so I am dragging my family along to help, encourage and watch me battle my way through the desert," she says.

Northland