By Joanna Bradley, Aviation & Missile Public AffairsAugust 14, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Not many people set out to run 135 miles non-stop in scorching desert temperatures. But that was the goal for Steven Carr, an employee at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Aviation & Missile Center.
Carr, 51, set a long-term goal in 2014 to run the Badwater 135, an ultramarathon covering 135 miles, 14,600 feet of cumulative vertical ascent, and 6,100 feet of cumulative descent from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, California. After setting his goal, he signed up for his first of many 100 mile races in September of that year.
Participation in the elite race, promoted as the "World's Toughest Foot Race," is by invitation only. Carr said he was excited to announce in February 2018 that he had been invited to run this year's race. Over 2,000 runners applied this year, with only 100 being invited. Ninety-nine started the race; 69 crossed the finish line.
Carr placed seventh out of 99, being the fifth male and first in the over-50 age group, with a finish time of 29:20:44. "[I] met all of my pre-race goals and exceeded my expectations," Carr said. "My body performed very well in the hot, harsh desert environment and against accomplished elite and professional runners."
With any long-distance run, Carr said a training plan is key. He implemented a 16-week training plan, during which he ran 764 miles with a 95,000 feet elevation change. He also swam 25,422 yards, biked 760 minutes, walked 2,160 minutes and spent 800 minutes stair climbing.
To prepare for the intense heat of the California desert, Carr wore three upper clothing layers on his drive home from work - heater blasting - to get his car temperature to a max of 140 degree Fahrenheit. His heat training also included sitting in a dry sauna at approximately 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on that day's running schedule.
The Badwater 135 course does not have racer aid stations, which are standard for most races. This meant runners had to bring their own support crews. Carr's team consisted of his wife, Stephanie, and volunteer paces Andy Bussell from California and Matt Humes from Minnesota. He credits his family, friends and fellow runners' support in aiding his success. "My accomplishments would not have been possible without my crew," Carr said. "This race is a definitely a team effort."
Carr said running is about the journey. "Running is such a small part of the why," he said. "I truly enjoy meeting runners and crews from different parts of the world, making new friendships, learning why individuals are there with a few personally sharing what they are running from, observing struggles and triumphs during the race, the competition, the experience, and learning more about myself."
An Aviation & Missile Center employee of 27 years, Carr currently supports the Systems Simulation, Software and Integration Directorate's Advanced Technology Branch. Carr is an Aerospace Engineer and government lead for the Rapid Scenario Prototyping Lab, which supports the Missile Defense Agency's Engineering Test and Performance Analysis Group.
The U.S. Aviation & Missile Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.