Latest Stories

Fil-Am makes running history, finishes 135-mile race


The first of three waves of runners start at the AdventurCORPS Badwater 135 ultra-marathon race on July 15, 2013 in Death Valley National Park, California. Billed as the toughest footrace in the world, the 36th annual Badwater 135 starts at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, 280 feet below sea level, where athletes begin a 135-mile non-stop run over three mountain ranges in extreme mid-summer desert heat to finish at 8,350 feet above sea level near Mount Whitney for a total cumulative vertical ascent of 13,000 feet. July 10 marked the 100-year anniversary of the all-time hottest world record temperature of 134 degrees, set in Death Valley where the average high in July is 116. A total of 96 competitors from 22 nations are attempting the run which equals about five back-to-back marathons. Previous winners have completed all 135 miles in slightly less than 24 hours. AFP PHOTO/David McNew

LOS ANGELES—Filipino-American architect Benjamin Gaetos made history this month when he became the first Filipino to ever complete the Badwater Ultramarathon, a grueling 135-mile run described as “the world’s toughest race.”

Gaetos, 56, finished the 36th edition of the annual invitational foot race on July 15 to 17 from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney with a time of 44 hours, eight minutes and seven seconds.

The Filipino runner is one of only 96 participants from around the world to qualify to probably the planet’s most demanding and extreme run where temperatures hit 125 degrees or more.

Gaetos finished 64th among 81 elite athletes–marathoners, triathletes, adventure races and mountaineers–who completed the punishing race that included 19 women or about a third of the gutsy finishers.

The race was won by 39-year-old Carlos Alberto da Gomez of Portugal with a time of 24 hours, 38 minutes and 16 seconds. The top female finisher was Australian Catherine Todd, 34, who lives and works in the United Arab Emirates clocked in with a time of 29 hours, 55 minutes and 29 seconds to finish 11th.

Gaetos said he ran his first race, the Run for the Homeless in Griffith Park in Hollywood in 1989, and the experience got him hooked on running. Three years later finished his first marathon in Los Angeles. He then took his running another notch, taking on the 2002 Bulldog 50-mile run in Malibu, California.

To date, his profile says that Gaetos has completed 58 ultramarathons, 58 42-mile races and scores of more than a hundred shorter races.
Gaetos, who works as an architect at the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Public Works, said he runs regularly for exercise and to relieve himself of stress.

Gaetos, who received his B.S. Architecture degree from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, thinks running, including the elite Badwater ultramarathon, is one of the most egalitarian sports.

“In this race, it doesn’t matter whether you came from, what economic circumstances you’re in or whether you’re a minority. Anyone can reach the top,” he told Balitang America. “You can compete with the same level as everybody as long as you do your homework,” added Gaetos, who said he is thankful for the support of his wife, their only daughter as well as fellow Filipinos.

To prepare for the ultimate challenge of running the Badwater race in the height of the summer heat, the Filipino extreme runner said he trained regularly and went to the sauna to get his body used to the heat.

“My secret training is I’ve gone to the sauna almost every day since February, staying there from 20 minutes to an hour to feel the heat,” Gaetos said. Gaetos shares his passion for running by mentoring other runners and by regularly sending running shoes, other running gear and clothes to charities in the Philippines.

For those aspiring to take their running to the next level by running a marathon or even an ultramarathon, Gaeto’s advice is simple and straightforward: Train properly and be prepared mentally for the ultimate challenge.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: fitness , marathons , running , ultramarathons

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Anti-gay demo in Ethiopia cancelled
  • Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US
  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • Sports

  • Duke freshman declares for NBA draft
  • Vietnam says it will not host Asian Games
  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • Lifestyle

  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Entertainment

  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • Marketplace