‘Runner’ Book Review – An Inspirational Ultra Running Book

They say don’t judge a book by its cover, in Lizzy Hawker’s case they are wrong. ‘Runner’ is a truly inspirational ultra running book and the cover art speaks a thousand words.

Lizzy is a legend of the trail and ultra running community, she has set records from Everest to Kathmandu, finished 1st lady at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc five times and represented Britain with a 24 hour Commonwealth record.

If you want a book full of mountain adventures, soul searching, racing records and true humility, this is the Ultra running book for you.

Runner by Lizzy Hawker – An Inspirational Ultra Running Book

We begin in Lizzy’s youth, understanding her passion for the mountains and how an obsession for the outdoors evolves into an Ultra Running career. Early in the book we get flashes to Lizzy’s first Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race. Dotted between her journey through time, this is probably my favourite part.

Race start is imminent. I stare at the mountains towering so far above us, and feel incredibly small. I have an overwhelming sense on insignificance. What is it I am doing? Whatever pain, doubt, hope, joy that I feel in the hours ahead, who will care, who will even know? At the same time it is as though the world is before us and full of infinite possibility.

With all the wrong gear and little idea Lizzy entered the race, wondering if she could finish. Heavy shoes, a borrowed back pack and restless pre-race sleep in her tent all add to the feel of sincerity and humility. Lizzy isn’t one for talking about achievements and focuses more on the experience. Throughout her description of the race, you can feel the surprise in her own performance. Whats there not to like about a runner coming from the back as an unknown entity to win one of the biggest races in the world.

With a likable character it is hard not to route for the underdog, I found ‘Runner’ refreshing because Lizzy shared her transition from winning a major race one day, to sitting at her desk the next. This is so true of Ultra Running, it is not like other Sports where the winners are treated like heroes. Most colleagues didn’t even know what Lizzy had done over the weekend and true to form she made no fuss.

A True Endurance Athlete

Lizzy’s body and mind have an uncanny ability to endure. As a child she didn’t win many races, it wasn’t until the Ultras much later in life that Lizzy found her calling. ‘Runner’ gives you a unique view into some of the best Ultra Trail races in the World, from France, to Switzerland, USA and even Nepal.

We run Ultra’s to test ourselves, pushing past our comfort zone. This book shares a steady progression, until Lizzy finds her true purpose, running in Nepal and Everest. After trecking to Everest Base Camp and peaking some of the highest mountains in the World Lizzy returns to Kathmandu…not by motorized transport, but her own two feet. Running and breaking the record (twice) from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu is probably her biggest achievement. To put it in numbers, 320km run with 10,000 meters of ascent taking more than 63 hours (the third record.)

Anyway, despite all the uncertainties I’d made it into the Khumbu and up to Everest Base Camp. I’m running now, the journey has started and my job is to get myself back to Kathmandu in as shorter time as possible. After all the effort it has taken to get here. now I’m just heading straight back. Bonkers.

Humbling Lows

Inspirational Ultra Running books don’t just carry stories of glory and gold. In ‘Runner’ we get to read and really feel the true agony of the Sport. Lizzy suffered numerous fractures and went through a dark patch. Every healed bone would see another crack and it is maybe here that we see her true endurance.

Injury is a hard master, a hard teacher. One that we don’t always like to listen to. And yet in the dark places it can take us there is also a wonderful depth of opportunity. The delicate dance between injury and health gives us a space rich in opportunity to learn and to change.

There are also the times Lizzy fell short of her high standards, which entailed not winning. Even then we can see how humble and grounded the author truly is.

Conclusion – An Inspirational Ultra Running Book

For me a must buy. ‘Runner’ is well written and takes you on a journey of achievement, hardship, friendship and truly stunning scenery. The adrenaline highs of race day to the serenity of running on your own around Everest, this book has it all.

Buy ‘Runner’ by Lizzy Hawker

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Author: Darren Smith

Fairly new to Trail running, Darren sees 2017 as a transitional year. Swapping concrete for dirt and 10K's for marathons and beyond. Darren started "Trailing The Pack" to chronicle his journey and share the trip with any like minded nutters.

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