Just two weeks after winning the 2012 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (post-race interview), Lizzy Hawker (The North Face) flew to the US and won the inaugural Run Rabbit Run 100. In the following interview, find out when she decided to run the race, what happened to her knee along the way, and the third major race she’ll run within a one-month span.
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Lizzy Hawker, 2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Lizzy Hawker again after Run Rabbit Run 100 this time. How are you doing, Lizzy?
Lizzy Hawker: Good, thank you, yes, and you?
iRF: I’m doing well. We both got to catch up on a little sleep. That’s a good question to start with. You’ve run UTMB, you’ve run this, oh and you did Western States. I was going to ask you whether you’ve run any 100’s that have a morning start that you got to go to bed and catch some rest. How do you… you’ve done a ton of races that you’ve run through the night… what’s your approach?
Hawker: I guess try and sleep well as you can the week before. This time it was a bit hard with traveling so close to the race; I know I didn’t catch up. So during the race I was more tired than I would be. I actually find races starting at midnight the hardest because I can never sleep the night before. So you’re kind of ready to sleep on the start line. If it starts earlier, at least the adrenaline’s kind of got you going.
iRF: Yes, so you had plenty of time to get going before the middle of the night this time. You did, however, have an early hiccup in your run. When did you fall?
Hawker: About 6 miles in. It was literally just at the top of Mount Werner at the top of the beautiful trail up there. I don’t know why. I just stumbled, but just fell really, really heavily on my knee. I’m kind of a bit cross because the race then, for me, became just about coping with the pain and whether I could carry on running rather than trying to race the best that I could. It was a bit frustrating in that respect.
iRF: Normally during a race you are very focused. Your emotion was showing when you came into mile 20 aid station with Krissy [Moehl] there. You could just tell that…
Hawker: It wasn’t good.
iRF: It wasn’t good. I thought you were going to run the mile across town to the next aid station and might not leave that one. Is it doing any better? Is it something that is going to affect you long term?
Hawker: I saw the medical guys last night and they said the swelling is just on top of the knee rather than in the kneecap. So I think it will blow up a bit the next day or two and then it will go down. I think it was such a hard bang that it was just really, really bruised. Hopefully…
iRF: I’m sorry that it bothered you, but I’m glad it’s nothing you’re going to have to deal with.
Hawker: Fingers crossed.
iRF: Are you going to have to deal with it on travel back to Europe right away? When do you go home?
Hawker: Yeah, I go home on Monday.
iRF: That’s another good question for you. You’ve also traveled a lot for racing. What is your strategy before and after the race? Do you have a normal routine?
Hawker: Well, like I said, I normally like to have a quiet week before a race and try and get some early sleep if you’re missing a night racing. So that kind of gets a bit messed up when you’re traveling.
iRF: So do you try to travel early, or do you travel a lot so you just do it at the last minute?
Hawker: Just whatever works out—what flight is the best deal and commitments at home. So yeah, you just have to deal with what you’ve got and try and do your best.
iRF: Like everybody else, right?
Hawker: Exactly, exactly.
iRF: In UTMB and a lot of European races, there aren’t pacers. It’s definitely something that came up with some of the runners here. How do you… a race like this past weekend, you were alone the entire race. There were no women you were racing. Did you ever have a time when you were racing the other guys or running with them?
Hawker: Not really. In passing, but I can’t remember running with anybody for a spell at all, no.
iRF: So you’re in your head for… especially all night.
Hawker: But for me, I prefer a race where there are no pacers because that’s what I’m used to. In some ways, it kind of evens the field because everyone is just dealing with themselves. So it’s just what I’m used to.
iRF: Support crew—who was out here helping you?
Hawker: Krissy was supporting me. I was really happy to have her support. It was really nice to share a race with her in a different way. She’s super kind and gracious even when I chundered at her feet in the middle of the night. I was grateful.
iRF: You two, when you’re racing, have a pretty strong rivalry. You actually raced at UTMB back and forth. At Western States, did you spend any time together there?
Hawker: Krissy had caught me just before the end, but…
iRF: You had disparate paces at that point.
iRF: One other question would be that you did have a stomach issue later. It’s kind of amazing to me that you dealt with pain for 75 miles and at that point the pain was just so intense that…
Hawker: Yeah, it kind of stopped me from eating and drinking enough and that’s why I was sick, as well. By the time I got back here I was completely running on empty.
iRF: Yeah, well you did do so successfully. You’re always racing and traveling or running fun adventures—do you have any downtime this fall?
Hawker: The next race, if my knee lets me, is actually Spartathlon in two weeks time. So not yet. I’ll have to wait for a bit of downtime.
iRF: That will be a bit of a transition. Spartathlon is 160-ish mile road race?
Hawker: 250k. I’m not sure what that is in miles. Road race, yeah.
iRF: I get the sense that you have a passion for being in the mountains. Do you tailor your training at all when you have a road race on the schedule?
Hawker: Usually I would earlier in the year. So like I’ve raced Comrades and Two Oceans. So then earlier in the winter time it’s kind of a bit more road running… except where I’m living at the moment it’s a bit hard to train on the roads any time of year let alone in the winter.
iRF: Are they narrow mountain roads?
Hawker: Yeah, and not snow free. But for Spartathlon, I’ve been training and racing in the mountains all summer, so I haven’t run on the road at all all summer. So I’m just going to have to hope that the mountain strength will carry me through. But it’s just one of those races I’ve wanted to do for a long time because it’s such an iconic ultra, so I’ll see what happens. I just look forward to something new.
iRF: Yeah, well enjoy the experience. Am I correct in that we’ll see you in December?
Hawker: Hopefully. Yeah. It’s yet to be decided.
iRF: Speaking of decisions. When did you start thinking about running Run Rabbit Run, and when did you decide to come over?
Hawker: It was actually in my head before UTMB but just kind of a vague thought of, “I wonder if I could get away with running all three races?” Then the way UTMB turned out, and it wasn’t the UTMB at all but a 100k trail race, I kind of thought, “Maybe I’ll see if I can do it.” So I got in touch with the organizers really last minute, and they were so kind to let me enter at the 11th hour.
iRF: We’re glad you came over, and congratulations on your win. Maybe you’ll get 3 of 3 in two weeks!
Hawker: Thank you.