I have long known the name, Lizzy Hawker, almost as long as I have been a runner as she is a phenomenon of the ultra running world; she wins races frequently and beats the boys more often than not, too. What I didn’t know about her was basically anything else.
Published in 2015 by Aurum Press, Runner is tagged ‘a short story about a long run’ and that certainly appears to be an accurate description as its three distinct chapters provide lots of information about Lizzy and her running primarily focusing on the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) and her runs from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu.
In section one we learn all about how Lizzy seemed almost to stumble into the world of long distance running. She describes her incredible first UTMB performance in 2005 in which she just hoped to stay in front of the woman she had overtaken, and eventually she wins – truly making her mark on the world of ultra running from the get-go.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” *
One of the best things I took from the book where some of the quotes that Lizzy shared.
The finish line. The end of something. You are where your journey has taken you. An end begins what a beginning ends.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” **
Section two moves on to her discovery of Nepal, and particular she talks about the challenge of moving from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu under her own steam. The pictures that Lizzy is able to paint with the written word are incredible and she really does transport the reader to get a true sense of how she felt 60+ hours into this phenomenal journey.
Sadly, section three seemed to lose it a little for me though. Lizzy suffered some long recurring injuries which led her to question her own personality and her place in the world at large. It is a question that I often try to comprehend myself; if I can’t run then I can’t be a runner, so what/who else am I?
This is a deep question, and a difficult one to answer. This section of the book is highly philosophical and this isn’t my problem with it, I think it was more odd that throughout this section Lizzy is addressing, You, whoever that is, and it suddenly felt disjointed and almost a little uncomfortable as I felt I was intruding on some personal correspondence between Lizzy and this mystery person.
I think the pictures in the middle of the book are a great addition, but actually I would have really liked some more / better maps or illustrations as well to support some of the pictures she was painting. The final section got a little tedious for me, but that absolutely should not put you off reading this book if you haven’t already.
One thing I was pleased to hear, after reading so much about her injury struggles in the book, is that just a matter of weeks ago Lizzy appears to have gotten it back under control and finished an amazing solo journey around Kathmandu:
* Carroll, L : Alice in Wonderland
Have you read this book from Lizzy Hawker? What did you think?
Any other running book suggestions for me?