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Q&A: Ultramararthon Champ Marshall Ulrich on the First Ever Trip Around Death Valley

Find out how he survived and succeeded in circumnavigating the hottest place on earth.

What gear was in your pack?
As far as electronic gear, we had a sat phone as a backup in case something happened. We also had a SPOT tracker to document that we did, in fact, do it. The third thing was a little GPS, because we had buried the caches and marked the coordinates. So we used those to find the caches, along with photos of the surroundings to refresh our memories. We were able to find all but one, which we think had been buried deeper by a mudslide.

For clothes, it was just a pair of underwear, pair of pants, a shirt, a hat, socks and shoes, trekking poles, sunglasses, and the backpack. We each carried three 100-ounce CamelBak bladders for water. It was very simplistic, very low-tech. You don’t need a whole lot.

You need to eat a lot of calories to pull this off, though. What was in the food caches?
Those consisted of MREs, freeze-dried food, and canned food in case something got in there, as well as snack food like potato chips and pretzels, trail mix, things to munch on during the day. We’d also buried 350 gallons of water. We tallied at the end, and we each drank 100 gallons. The rest we used to wash our clothes and cool off, so we had the luxury of having a bit too much. The mystery was, would these caches be undisturbed and could we sustain ourselves? We were shocked we were able to.

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