Congratulations, Norma!
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Imagine running 217 kilometres non-stop, uphill, in temperatures above 40°C, with no sleep. You would be exhausted, hot, likely in pain and perhaps wondering whether you would make it to the finish line.

Ultra-runner Norma Bastidas knows all too well just how physically and mentally challenging a run like this can be. On July 30, she completed the Badwater® 135 ultramarathon, the world’s toughest foot race, in Death Valley, California. She pushed her body and mind to tackle the most difficult race she has ever done, all in support of Operation Eyesight.

“I have never worked this hard for a race,” she says. “But I knew the further I went, the better off someone else would be.”

The race began at Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in North America, 85 metres below sea level. From there, runners had 48 hours to run 135 miles to Whitney Portal, 2,530 metres above sea level. Nineteen of the 97 runners were unable to finish the race, succumbing to Death Valley’s brutal conditions. But Norma remained strong, crossing the finish line in just under 46 hours.

“Ultramarathons are symbolic of how you tackle something that seems impossible, like eliminating avoidable blindness,” says Norma. “You keep going until it’s done.”

Norma crossed the finish line with a total race time of 45:44:15. From left to right: Nadia Ukrainetz, Kevin Compayre, Norma Bastidas, Rob Ohlson and Edgar Campos. [Photo by Chris Kostman/]

Norma poses with the coveted Badwater® belt buckle and t-shirt. Way to go, Norma! [Photo by Chris Kostman/]
Our very own Rob Ohlson, chair of Operation Eyesight’s Board of Directors, supported Norma in Death Valley as one of her run crew members. “The race was mentally difficult for runners to get through,” he explained. “Norma was incredible. We’re all so proud of her.”

Norma began supporting Operation Eyesight shortly after her oldest son, Karl, was diagnosed with a blinding eye condition with no cure. To deal with the stress in her life, she started running – and she has never stopped.

In 2009 she ran the “777 Run for Sight,” becoming the fastest woman to run seven ultramarathons on seven continents in seven days. In 2014, she broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest triathlon. So far in 2015, she has completed three Badwater® events, becoming the only Canadian to snag the Badwater® Ultra Cup this year.

Congratulations on an incredible Badwater® finish, Norma! Thank you for supporting Operation Eyesight and giving the gift of sight to so many children, women and men in need. We’d also like to recognize Rob and the rest of Norma’s run crew for helping Norma cross that finish line.

Norma and crew just moments after crossing the finish line. Special thanks to Running 4 Those Who Can’t for donating the crew’s shirts and headbands. [Photo by Chris Kostman/]
We’d especially like to thank everyone who supported Norma’s run. We know your donations and words of encouragement meant the world to her. Norma’s vision is for all the world to see, and with your generous support, her vision can come true!

You, too, can support Norma’s vision – and congratulate her on an amazing Badwater® finish – by making a donation on her behalf. Thank you for your amazing support!

Check out our Facebook page for more photos and updates from the race.