Tag Archives: Lizzy Hawker

Adventurer of the Year: Lizzy Hawker

Lizzy Hawker, ultra long distance runner.
Lizzy Hawker runs the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, 103 miles. photo: The North Face.

Just in time to beat the voting deadline… ultra long distance runner Lizzy Hawker makes up our 10th and final look at National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year, 2013. Don’t forget to vote by January 16!

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You know that scene in the movie Forrest Gump where, after the girl leaves him, Forrest heads off for a run that takes him across the country about six times? Seemingly no limit to his endurance? That’s what I think of when I read about Lizzy Hawker. A petite British woman who didn’t run a professional race until she was 29 and entered NorthFace’s Ultra Marathon du Mont Blanc on a whim – and won it!

Some fish are born to swim, right?

In his excellent post for Nat Geo, Fitz Cahall paints the picture in all its grueling colors. 103 miles (168 km) with a cumulative 31,168 feet of uphill climb. As anyone who has run a regular marathon can tell you – this is quite an achievement. Lizzy has won the women’s title 5 out of the 6 times she’s run it.

lizzy hawker wins UTMB
Lizzy Hawker wins first place for her 5th time, at Northface’s Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. photo: Franck Oddoux.

Since finishing her PhD in oceanography, and her work with the British Antarctic Survey, Lizzy has concentrated on endurance running. She credits her success to a natural level of endurance and a deep love of the mountains. In fact, it seems like just being in the mountains is her primary motivation.

Perhaps even more impressive than the large, well organized UTMB, was Lizzy’s try at the Great Himalayan Trail, across Nepal, solo.

You have to realize that a trail like that – criss-crossed for thousands of years – doesn’t exactly come with trail markers. “There are lots of old hunting trails. The animals have worn parts [of it] as well. It’s very easy to get off the main trail. I was in really steep old-growth forest. I managed to lose a small bag that had the satellite phone and permits for the entire journey.”

Losing that bag meant the end to Lizzy’s trek. Without being able to make her daily sat-phone check in, she knew her friends would be calling out a rescue party.

Of course she’s planning on trying again. When you’re Lizzy Hawker, you don’t need a prize at the end of the road. You just need the trail, your shoes and the mountains. How pure is that?

“For me, moving fast in the mountains just comes natural.”

Lizzy Hawker
Lizzy Hawker loves to run in the mountains. Whether there’s a race or not!
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Adventurers of the Year 2013

Mike Libecki explores Greenland.  photo: Keith Ladzinski
Mike Libecki explores Greenland. photo: Keith Ladzinski
Every November, National Geographic unveils their Top Ten list of candidates for their Adventurer of the Year Award. Anyone can vote online and you have until Jan. 16th to do it.

This is not an easy choice. You don’t get on this list for doing anything mediocre. Or halfway. You get there for “remarkable achievements in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism, etc., blah-blah…” We call it kicking some proverbial ass in the adventure world!

What’s great about this list are the awesome stories and images that go along with it. Like me, you probably have no clue what most of these people have done. Trust me, it’s worth finding out.

So, in a first for Xpedition.TV, we’re going to take a look at every one of these awesome men and women. A few we’ve written about before (think: helium balloon & space capsule). One or two I’ve met in person. Others… I guess we’re just gonna find out.

Look for daily posts about each, although that’s probably ambitious. There’s so much to say about each of them! More to come…