Ultrarunners compete over hundreds of miles and for days at a time in a single race. But even by those superhuman standards, British ultrarunner Lizzy Hawker, 36, is particularly, well, ultra. Hawker is the five-time women’s division winner of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, one of the toughest trail races in the world, which sees competitors run more than 100 miles in the French Alps. Last year, she ran that race, as well as the 100-mile Run Rabbit Run in Colorado and the 155-mile Spartathlon Ultra Race in Greece—all in the space of four weeks, the New York Times reports.
Hawker entered the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc the first time in 2005 on a whim while on holiday nearby. Twenty-six hours and 53 minutes later, she was the first woman across the finish line. “I ran every day, so I knew I had endurance, but there was no indication I’d be good,” she says. From there, Hawker's ultrarunning career took off; she has since won 35 trail ultras. The sport offers plenty of injuries, but little to no prize money or fame. So why do it? "Running is a way of moving I really love," she says, "and I love being outside in the mountains." (Click for the full profile, which includes a wild tale of how Hawker dealt with a canceled flight while in Nepal—by just running 200 miles to her destination.)