Meet the Queen of Ultrarunning
Lizzy Hawker can run over 24 hours without sleep
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2013 4:30 PM CDT
Great Britain's Elizabeth "Lizzy" Hawker during the Swiss Alpine Marathon.   (AP Photo/KEYSTONE/Arno Balzarini)

(Newser) – 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.)

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Showing 3 of 21 comments
Apr 22, 2013 1:05 PM CDT
Far from the golden mean. Extreme anything is out of balance. The greatest runners of all time were the !Kung Bushmen of the former Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana), but they had good reason to run: Hunting antelope, and escaping from enemies.
Apr 22, 2013 12:54 PM CDT
Good for her, but I can't help but wonder if all that running won't eventually do damage to her knees/ankles/ hips, as it sometimes does for NBA players. I guess use while you can.
Apr 22, 2013 9:58 AM CDT
Think of all the money she saves on gas. A 50 mile commute would be child's play for her.