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A marathon for the truly insane

Regular marathons not punishing enough for you (despite the fact that the original one killed the Greek fella who invented it)? Then you've got to try the ultimate in face-melting masochism: the 30th annual Badwater Ultramarathon, held this July 23-25 in Death Valley. Get this: describing itself as "the world's toughest footrace," it's a non-stop, 135-mile journey from the lowest elevation in the Western hemisphere (280 feet below sea level, in the heart of Death Valley) to 8,360 feet up Mt. Whitney (which, if you keep climbing, is the highest elevation in the continental U.S., at 14,505 feet.) On the way, runners ascend and descend three mountain ranges, enduring temperatures up to 130 degrees.

As a result of all this x-tremeness, not many marathoners -- even ultramarathoners -- are able to finish the race. The first guy who tried this, back in 1974, nearly died. Al Arnold was pulled off the course after just 18 miles, suffering from severe dehydration. He had to go through serious desert acclimation and heat training in saunas before he tried again in 1975, when a knee injury stopped him fifty miles in. He finally finished the run in 1977 -- at the age of 50 -- and 10 years later, the ultramarathon was born. The current record is 24 hours and 30 minutes, and as of now, there have been no fatalities. But just you wait.

By the way, this blogger is headed to Death Valley today on a two-day trip -- I'm bringing water, maps, a spare tire, and my camera. But if you don't see any blogs from me on Wednesday or Thursday ... er ... call someone.

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The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

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