" More than 60 hours have passed since Hawker left Everest Base Camp for the 320km run down to the Nepalese capital, a journey with over 10,000m of ascent and 14,000m descent. There are no other competitors, no one to beat but herself, no prize money or podium moment – only the breaking of her own records on a trail which has come to hold a special significance for the British ultra-runner.
This is the UK's largest ultra-marathon, with over 2,000 participants. Perhaps the more sedentary and comfortable our daily lives become the more we need to look for something that challenges us in a very immediate way.Now around 400 runners attempt the challenge each year, with a finish rate of between 60 and 83 per cent.It's one of four 100-milers in the US, including the Leadville 100, aka the "Race in the Sky", which begins at an altitude of 3,100m and reaches up to 3,850m.She has always loved running and exploring mountains, but a surprise win in the renowned Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) in 2005 revealed her aptitude for extreme events, and in the decade since she has wowed the running community with her achievements.These include winning the UTMB five times out of six attempts, winning gold for the 100km at the World Championships in Korea in 2006, and setting a new record in 2011 for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours on the road, 247.07km.Astonishingly, he describes it as being "easy to finish"."That's not to say it's not difficult," he concedes.Why, Lizzy Hawker asked herself, lying on her back in total darkness on a strip of road leading into Kathmandu, with the wild beauty of Everest above her, and the bustling chaos of Kathmandu just 15km below."Why, already hours into the third night, am I still asking my body to run?Hawker runs to find balance rather than to take herself to extremes."Endurance is really more a way of living than just a sport," she explains from Kathmandu, a city she has come to know well.