On his first attempt, a man has completed one of the toughest endurance running races in the world in under 40 hours.

John Stocker, a 42-year-old personal trainer who lives in Bicester, ran the Badwater 135 ultra-marathon in Death Valley, California over Monday July 11 and Tuesday July 12.

The starting gun sounded at 9.30pm US time on Monday evening, and Mr Stocker completed the run in 37 hours and 17 minutes.

The 135-mile race – which only accepts 100 hand-picked runners per event - takes endurance athletes through the intense heat of Death Valley all the way up to Mount Whitney Portal.

Mr Stocker said: “Experience is everything in this race. It is considered one of the toughest races in the world.

“With Badwater you go on your first time simply to try and finish. I didn’t want to have the expense of getting there, and not be able to finish.

“But when the wind is whipping at your legs, and you’ve still got 100 miles to go, you can see why it’s one of the hardest runs in the world.”

The father of three said he did a lot of heat training at home in the lead up to the event, using gas heaters to produce a difficult environment.

Read more: Proposal to turn historic building into flats is refused

He added: “Heat wise the run didn’t hit me too much. It was only later in the evening that I got quite sick.

“I was throwing up at the end of the first night.

“I was quite sick at the end of the second evening too, so there were highs and lows.”  

Runners taking on Badwater take a crew with them for support, but only after 42 miles can the athletes have a person run behind them to provide water.

Mr Stocker was also sponsored and supported by Tailwind Nutrition UK.

He said: “My crew chief was my wife, Leanne, then I had 3 friends, Christopher Allen, Bruce Clark and Sue Manhood helping me too.

“Your crew are in a van alongside you the whole way, and after 42 miles you’re allowed to have a person to run behind you.

“They can carry water and spray you, but they have to stay at your speed, they aren’t allowed to set pace.

“You consume so much water. The temperature at the start of the race was 48 degrees Celsius and by the time we got into midday Tuesday it was 51 degrees.”

Mr Stocker started running ultra-marathons in 2014, and has since completed several major events.

Including breaking the world record for Suffolk Backyard Ultra in 2021.

When asked why he commits to such astonishing feats of endurance, Mr Stocker replied: “I have three children, and I’m trying to make sure they understand that nothing is impossible.”  


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

A message from our Editor

Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.

If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more. 

You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile. 

If you’ve got a story for our reporters, send us your news here. You can also list an event for free here.