This past weekend, Lizzy Hawker (The North Face) won The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc for an incredible fifth time in her six attempts at the race, which was just held for the tenth time. This year, Hawker dealt with foul weather, course changes, and a lingering injury along her path to victory. In the following interview, find out how her race went, where she’d like to race in the States, and what she’s dreaming of tackling next.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Lizzy Hawker, 2012 TNF UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell here of iRunFar with Lizzy Hawker after her 5th win at The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. How are you Lizzy?
Lizzy Hawker: Good, thank you. And you?
iRF: I’m good, though probably not as tired as you. It was “only” 104k with “only” 6,000 meters of gain, so it wasn’t the “real” course.
Hawker: It was half the time out there.
iRF: It was still challenging though.
Hawker: Yes, because every race is still challenging in its own way, but it was a completely different race.
iRF: Did you approach it differently?
Hawker: Yeah, I guess. Timing-wise, Friday it was quite hard waiting for the news of what was going to happen and then readjust your thoughts. But I guess with an ultra-distance race you have to be prepared for whatever the race is going to throw at you. And in this, it was that the race wasn’t going to happen and it was going to be a completely different course. You really just have to try and stay in the moment and just keep that calm attitude inside yourself that what goes on goes on and you can’t do anything about it. So you just stay in the moment and run your race.
iRF: Your race typically is aggressive. I wasn’t quite to the Les Houches aid station yesterday, but where I was at the bridge, which is at least 5 miles into the race, you were there in 29 minutes and change. You were literally running less than 6 minutes per mile. (Sorry, I can’t do pace conversions to metric.)
Hawker: Yeah, I guess my strategy for any race is just to run the best I can at each moment of the race. So I don’t intentionally go out aggressively, but it just kind of happens that I’m out in front of everybody.
iRF: Almost off the front of the men’s pack. You were 75 seconds later. You also had some pain out there?
Hawker: Yeah, I’ve had some injury issues since about March time which aren’t completely resolved. I’ve had some disappointing races, some good races, some good training, and things aren’t resolved yet. So I was in pain quite a bit of the race.
iRF: During the race, was your finish ever in doubt?
Hawker: No, I knew I’d always finish because I was just determined I’d get back to Chamonix somehow. I think if I’d have had to walk back I would have done it yesterday. I never knew if I’d manage to win or where I’d actually be. I was just happy to make it to the end.
iRF: So the victory was not only for the race but for yourself.
Hawker: Yes. Yes.
iRF: You’ve run this race a lot—6 times with 5 wins in 10 years.
Hawker: Yes. I have to say, I’ve never run the course we did yesterday, however… bits of it.
iRF: True. Do you anticipate taking a break in the near future?
Hawker: Yes. It’s definitely a race you can’t run every year just because it’s not the only race and there are other things that I’d really love to do as well during the summer and the autumn. But it’s a special race for me, and I still have challenges within the race. So it will draw me back again.
iRF: You did run faster than 24:58 [Krissy Moehl’s full UTMB course record], but you’d like to do that on the full course?
iRF: What other sort of plans do you have in the near future? Are there other races you’re particularly looking forward to?
Hawker: Yes. I still have a lot of dreams with different races. Maybe I’ll come back to the States next year. I’d love to come back to Western States uninjured and try some of the others like maybe Hardrock—but it might take a few tries to actually get in.
iRF: Might as well put your name in that lottery.
Hawker: Just see what happens. Yes, and I have dreams still with some challenges and long mountain journeys and climbing high—that’s a deep dream, too.
iRF: Any particular locations?
Hawker: The Himalayas really speak to me. I don’t know if the chance will ever come, but I used to work in the Antarctic on research cruises and it’s always been my dream to go back and to explore. The polar regions are a passion of mine, too.
iRF: So you guys can mull that one over [to the audience]. That’s great! Best of luck in whatever you chose to do in the future, Lizzy. Take care.
Hawker: Thank you. You, too.