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Endurance sports

Death Valley officials study safety of running, cycling events

The Badwater 135 Ultramarathon, an endurance race that runs through the hottest place in the world in the summer, will be taking a detour in 2014 after Death Valley National Park in California placed a moratorium on running and cycling competitions until it can determine how safe they are.

The study should be done by the spring, and such events could start being scheduled again after Oct. 1, park spokeswoman Cheryl Chipman said Monday.

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“We want to make it clear, we’re not canceling or banning any events,” Chipman said. “At the moment, we’re just not taking any more applications for them until we finish our safety evaluation.”

Chris Kostman, whose AdventureCorps sponsors the Badwater 135 and other endurance competitions in the sprawling desert park each year, said he has had to reschedule and move several of them for 2014. He questioned the need for a safety review, contending his organization has held 89 events in the park since 1990 without a serious incident.

Chipman said the study was prompted by observations of rangers and visitors that an increasing number of endurance contests were jamming the park’s two-lane roads with participants, support crews and spectators.

The Badwater 135 Ultramarathon in July begins in the park’s Badwater Basin, which at 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in North America. It continues across a barren, unforgiving desert where summer temperatures can surpass 130 degrees before it takes runners across three mountain ranges. It ends near the 8,300-foot level of Mount Whitney.

“Although it is considered the world’s toughest footrace, we have an 89 percent finishing rate,” Kostman said of the invitation-only event.


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Two construction workers were killed in the Nov. 27 accident, which is under investigation.

Luis Antonio Medeiros said time cards showed the crane operator at the Arena Corinthians stadium “was 18 days without any break.”

Medeiros said there wasn’t necessarily a cause-effect relationship between the accident and the operator’s string of workdays. But he added, “We think that’s exhausting for someone who works such a delicate machine.”

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Hertl, 20, leads league rookies with 15 goals and 25 points this season.

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Hampus Lindholm scored the winner at 14:24 of the third period and league-leading Anaheim beat host Washington 3-2 to extend its franchise-best winning streak to nine games.


• The Chicago Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Brett Marshall, 23, off waivers from the New York Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox claimed left-hander Eric Surkamp, 26, off waivers from San Francisco and lost infielder Brent Morel, 26, to Toronto.

Texas claimed outfielder Alex Castellanos, 27, from Boston.

• Spanish tennis player Guillermo Olaso has been banned from the sport for five years and fined $25,000 for match-fixing. Tennis Integrity Unit officials said the 25-year-old Olaso, ranked No. 236 in the world, was found guilty of three corruption offenses in 2010.

• Figure skater Akiko Suzuki, 28, earned an automatic berth on the Japanese Olympic team by winning her first national title at the All-Japan championships in Saitama.

Suzuki will be joined at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, by teammates Mao Asada, a two-time world champion, and Kanako Murakami.

Two-time world champion Miki Ando, 26, failed in her bid to make her third Olympic team and announced her retirement.

Seattle Times news services