A running book for this Friday Reads for the first time in a while. Runner by Lizzy Hawker has been sitting on my kindle for a while but I hadn’t gotten round to reading it until I finished the book I was reading on the plane on the way back from New York and needed something new to read.
I’m so glad I picked it up. I was vaguely aware of who Lizzy Hawker was – her fame precedes her as one of Britain’s best ultra runners – but I didn’t know the details or her back story. She has won the UTMB (one of the most famous ultras in the world, around Mont Blanc in the Alps) FIVE times. The book starts with Lizzy on the start line of her first UTMB, with none of the right kit and no idea if she can even finish.
It follows lots of her races, but really focuses on two main trails; the UTMB and the trail between Everest Base Camp and Kathmandu. The reader really gets a sense of what it is like to run on these trails, the beauty, the meditative nature of long distance running, the lows and the highs.
Through the UTMB, her first big success, the reader learns of Lizzy’s life growing up, early career and how she fell into the sport of ultra running. Then through the route from Everest to Kathmandu we learn about Lizzy’s career and success as an ultra runner. In the final third of the novel, we suffer with Lizzy through injury after injury after injury.
By starting right in the middle of her story, it is so much more than a memoir, but rather a love story to ultra running. There is no strict plot which may annoy some, but I liked the meandering style in which different runs over the same terrain blurred into one. It kind of reflected to me what running can actually be like – all these moments of memories of running along the Thames Path that combine so it’s hard to remember which one was which run.
A brilliant book for anyone who loves (or wants to love!) running.