Cheryl Zwarkowski

The world of endurance began for me in January of 2005 when I did my first 50K; I was 46 years old at the time….

 

To explain—I started training in 2000; I was 42 years old.  I began with a Personal Trainer at the gym and began walking and then began very short runs around my neighborhood with my ENTIRE goal being to be able eventually to run a 5K!   I did so within a couple of months, then a 10K the following month, and a half-marathon the next month.    My first marathon was the LA Marathon in March of 2001, almost a year after I first began running.  The feeling of elation and empowerment I had when I crossed the finish line was beyond words—I was “hooked” and knew, just KNEW, I could do anything!  And I also wondered at that point what mlimit(s) were.

 

I went on marathoning for a while.  In 2002, I set my goal to do a marathon a month, and ended up doing 13—perhaps ambitions of going farther and doing more were already set in motion.  In April of 2003, I did my first Boston Marathon.  I followed that up two months later by entering a bodybuilding competition.  I competed in several contests over the next two years and at the time held several titles; however, the lure of running kept calling.

 

I returned to running in late 2004 with the idea of doing ultras; but, to back up a little bit, in 2002 a friend gave me the book titled To the Edge:  A Man, Death Valley and the Mystery of Endurance, by Kirk Johnson.  It was this book that turned monto the idea of the Badwater 135 and ultrarunning; until I read this book, I literally had no idea that this world EVEN EXISTED.  In 2002 I told friends, family, anyone who would listen that I would “someday“ do this Badwater race and, mind you, that was BEFORE I had ever even run any ultra J.  They all basically said the same thing—that “doing Badwater would be NUTS!”

 

So, to date I have paced and crewed for three Badwater races and run—and buckled—seven times:  2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013, 2014 and 2016!  I also recently completed another 135 mile race in Brazil in January 2012.  I have additionally completed eight 100-mile runs, two 100K’s, ten 50 milers, and twelve 50K’s.   In 2007, my time of 23:10:07 at the Heartland 100 in Kansas was the 55th fastest 100-mile time for ALL women in North America.  In 2008, my time of 22:35:39 at the Umstead 100 in North Carolina was the 41st fastest 100-mile time for ALL women in North America, and in February of 2013 I completed the Rouge-Orleans 126.2.  I continue to extend and challenge myself with my ultrarunning goals.

 

On July 28th, 2012 I ran the Badwater course times three for a total of 405 miles.

 

In March, 2014 I ran across the State of California; starting at the Colorado River Bank, (State Line), near Blythe, California and ran to Solana Beach on the Southern California Coast.  In June of 2014, I began, and completed, the first half of my "Down Cali" run, which took me from the northern border of California, just north of Cresent City, down Highways 1, (Pacific Coast Highway), and 101 to Santa Cruz just north of Monterey.  In October of 2014, I completed the Journey down the state to the border of Mexico for a total of 1032 miles. During both segments of the run, I ran approximately40 miles per day.

 

In May of 2016, I joined forces with the “Defeat the Stigma” project and we ran across the state of Wisconsin – approximately 300 miles.

 

In 2016, I also completed the Badwater Ultra Cup. This is a three-event series comprising the 50 mile Badwater Cape Fear race in March, the 81 mile Badwater Salton Sea race in May and the 135 mile Badwater 135 in July.

 

In May of 2017, I ran across the State of Illinois with the "Defeat the Stigma" project.  The goal of the "Defeat the Stigma" project is to educate, encourage, and inspire others about mental health issues and treatments in an effort to end stigma and foster hope.


On July 10, 2017, I will toe the line for the Badwater 135 for the ninth time, going for my 8th Badwater buckle.

Also in July of 2017, after completing the Badwater 135 I will continue on to the top of Mt Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States at 14,496 ft. elevation.  I will then run back to the basin for a Double 146.