No rest! Vegan runner tackles second epic ultra and makes the podium

Harvey Lewis has completed the seemingly impossible to complete his 12th consecutive Badwater Ultramarathon.

9 July 2023

Dubbed the ‘World’s Toughest Footrace’, the 135 mile route crosses the extreme heat of Death Valley. Height gain is 4000m metres (13,000 feet) and finishes on Mount Whitney.  This year temperatures of 51 C (124 F) were recorded.

Previous two-time winner Harvey faced the race just two weeks after breaking his own US record in Last Survivor racing with a 375 mile run (more here).

“I wasn’t sure if I would be chasing a podium finish or to get in just under the wire to finish last” he said.

“Once the race started, I couldn’t resist going out hard. Perhaps not the wisest of choices.” He recorded a marathon in 3:34 – that’s 8:10 per mile. Incredibly that marathon was less than 20% of the total distance.

“It was either my fastest or 2nd fastest time ever to Stovepipe Wells at mile 42, which totally surprised me given the Backyard 2 weeks ago. I completely surprised myself. I didn’t think this was possible.”

“A highlight was running with each of my teammates at some point after mile 42. They were amazing!”

Harvey finished in 27:07 to finish as third man.

“I was definitely a zombie at the finish. There is definitely a big risk of injury putting two events (500+ miles) two weeks apart and I wouldn’t suggest it. Fortunately I think, I am just really beat up! I’ve been in an epsom salt bath for the past hour and 45 minutes this morning, including as I write this. I left nothing out there.”

Vegan power

Incredibly Harvey is not a full time runner but a schoolteacher. He’s been vegan since 2016 after 20 years vegetarian. He’s known for his upbeat approach to the sport, and for his humour and encouraging nature.

Harvey turned vegan out of concern for animals but has noted other benefits. He says his food intake is a big part of his success.

“I’ve been running ultras for 25 years, to be doing that and to be competitive. I’m not sure anyone in the US can match that – for so many years and still competitive.”

He quotes “recovery time and the ability for the body to rebalance” as a benefit of his whole food plant based diet.