You can get a good workout on a new treadmill, especially if you set it on an incline. And if you really want a challenge, you can set it on an incline and put it in your 100-degree+ sauna.

What? Why would anyone put a treadmill in a sauna?

Ask Frank McKinney. That’s where he has his. And that’s where he’s done some of his training for a “little” race he’s going to be running today. The race is called the Badwater Ultramarathon. It begins in Death Valley, Utah. Temperatures can reach as high as 130 degrees. Humidity should be as low as 5% (though they have recorded levels as low as 0%). But it will get cooler at times … The race is 135 miles nonstop, so Frank will be going night and day. And while the race begins at 280 feet below sea level (the lowest point in the western hemisphere), it will cover three mountain ranges and end 9,000 feet above sea level on Mt. Whitney in California.

The challenge is to complete the race in 48 hours. Or just survive it …

Up until last year, Frank had never run a half-marathon in his life … let alone a race the distance of a short commuter flight. But he stumbled on this one-of-a-kind endurance challenge last year while driving through Utah on vacation with his wife and daughter. So, in November, he qualified for acceptance by finishing a 100-mile race in Ohio. That was 35 miles shorter, flatter, and a whole lot cooler. A cakewalk.

For this race, he has four pairs of sneakers lined up. Not because he’ll wear them out … but because his feet are expected to swell from a size 11 to size 13 by the end of it. And in case they no longer fit in the size 13s, he has a pair of open-toed running sandals too. A team of people will be following Frank in a van – and he’ll be periodically monitored for heatstroke, dehydration, excess hydration, kidney problems, you name it.

But I think they might want to examine his head. Why would anyone want to do this?

Last week, Frank invited sponsors of the race to lunch at his beachfront home in Delray Beach, Florida. And he explained why he’s running the Badwater. Two main reasons …

First, it’s because Frank never feels more alive than when he is experiencing an extreme for the first time. It’s the kind of attitude that has led him from rehabbing dozens of $30,000-$50,000 homes in rundown neighborhoods to becoming the most famous oceanfront property developer in South Florida. In 1997, he built and sold a $29 million home on spec. “On spec” means he had no buyers lined up beforehand. Yet he builds truly one-of-a-kind homes … and he’s a shrewd marketer. He knows how to get the attention of his centi-millionaire and billionaire market. Ultimately, he went ahead and sold what The Wall Street Journal called “the most expensive home built on spec” in the history of mankind. Last year, however, he topped that with a $40 million+ sale. And this year, he bought eight acres of oceanfront property in Manalapan, an enclave (see Word to the Wise, below) of celebrities and national business executives. He now intends to build and sell the first $100 million single-family home. And, again, he’ll build it first, on spec. Frank likes to wake up each day with a little fear. But don’t be fooled. He’s a sharp businessman who knows his market. And he’s confident he knows how to make his prospective clients come to him. Already, the local press is beginning to write about his new building venture. And what’s the worst that could happen? That he loses a fortune? Well, I guess to calm his nerves and put it all in perspective, he’s taking a little run today.

The second reason Frank is doing the race is for his Caring House Foundation. Frank has built and sold hundreds of millions of dollars of oceanfront real estate and has never lost money on a single deal. He’s done very well by himself … and he also makes it a point to do well by others. His Caring House Foundation has built and provided clean, safe, solid housing for over 1,100 destitute families in Haiti, Nicaragua, and (most recently) in Indonesia in the wake of the tsunami. All of his sponsorship money from this race will go to support the Caring House Foundation.

Frank will be speaking at ETR’s 2nd Annual Wealth Building Bootcamp in October. His speaking fees and all monies he receives from the sale of his best-selling book “Make It BIG: 49 Secrets to Building a Life of Extreme Success” also go to the Caring House Foundation. We wish you the best, Frank.

[Ed. Note: Justin Ford is the editor of Main Street Millionaire, ETR’s Real Estate Investment Success Program.]

Justin Ford is an active investor in real estate and global stock markets. He is also a veteran financial writer. He has published, edited and written for over a dozen international investment newsletters, including launching the US version of the Fleet Street Letter, the oldest continuously published newsletter in the English Language.
He is the author of Seeds of Wealth, a program for getting children to adopt good money habits from an early age. He is the editor of the Seeds of Wealth Quarterly Investment Update Bulletin. He is a contributing editor and author to a number of books on personal finance, including Michael Masterson’s Automatic Wealth and Dr. Van Tharp’s Safe Strategies for Financial Freedom.