Blogs >> Ecology of Movement: An interview with endurance athlete Lizzy Hawker

Ecology of Movement: An interview with endurance athlete Lizzy Hawker

Earlier this week we caught up with elite athlete Lizzy Hawker, who is leading a short online course at Schumacher College this month in the Ecology of Movement. A race director, former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, as well as multiple-winner of the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc and other races, Lizzy has more recently turned to sharing her experience and knowledge and exploring the one thousand mile trail across the Himalayas. But before we got onto that we asked her to say who she was in her own words. You can listen to the interview on Soundcloud or scroll down to read the transcript. 

Lizzy: Yeah, so I'm Lizzy Hawker, and I've been an endurance athlete for around 15 years or so now. And before that, I was a physical oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey. I then kind of fell into long distance running. So I've competed on the mountain, on the trail, and on the road for more than a decade. And now, you know, everything has its time, and for me, the curiosity from competition has kind of passed. Now it's more about sharing with other people. So I'm the Race Director of the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa in the Alps, which is 100 mile race in September time. And when I have time, I really like exploring in the Himalayas. So as you mentioned, I've made a 1,000 mile journey across Nepal, through the Himalayas, not once, but twice now, simply because I loved it so much. So yes, when I have time, I'm often in Nepal and exploring the trails there.

What is it about that particular place that draws you back there?

Lizzy: It's the wildness. It's the scale of doing something like that. Of course, it's the mountains there. And it's also the people and the people that I met along the journey. It's very humbling to receive the hospitality that they that they offer along the way.

Could we talk about the ecological side to this? You mentioned the people, but I guess a lot of the time you're out there on your own running through incredible landscapes. And the short course, of course, is about the ecology of movement. So what are your thoughts on that?

Lizzy: So the course is really thinking about the words "ecology of movement", it's really thinking about movements and in relationship to ourselves, the natural world around us and to each other, of course, so it's the connection between us and our environment, and each other. And at the moment as more and more of us are either still facing restrictions or again, facing restrictions, a practice of movement can remind us of the freedoms that we always have, despite the uncertainties at the moment. And so it's really about using this grounding within our physical movement in the natural world, hopefully as a way to build mental and emotional resilience as we move towards the New Year of 2021 and whatever that brings forth. So it's hopefully just something positive to finish up the year with.

I like this idea of running that isn't competitive. And I think that's also coming out in this course. We don't have to run just to win a race all the time, we can run to experience our local area.

Lizzy: And that's very much what this is about. It's not a masterclass of running technique or anything like that. It's really just encouraging people to maybe pick a goal, but maybe not. Maybe the goal is simply to walk in nature for 30 minutes every day. And we'll explore different themes each week and just use that to deepen our understanding of the relationships between ourselves and the environment, and each other as well.

For anyone who hasn't booked yet, could you give us an idea of who it is for? Is it open to anyone?

Lizzy: Yeah, it doesn't matter what your kind of level of physical activity is. It's simply either picking a goal to aim towards, to work towards during the six weeks. Or it could be as simple as kind of a practice to do every day. And that could just be spending time outside in nature, but maybe in a way that you don't normally do. So just experiencing moving through nature. And yeah, we'll try and deepen the connections through that.

Great, and it's all happening on zoom, isn't it?

Lizzy: Yeah. Yeah.

That's nice. Nice and personal. Emailing all the time can be quite alienating…

Lizzy: Yes. So it's based around doing a group zoom call every week. And then also 10 minute one to one chats. Which can either be by WhatsApp call, Zoom or email. If somebody doesn't have much time, you know, we can really tailor it to what they need.

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The course starts on 23 November and takes place online over 6 weeks. To book your place on the course head to the Ecology of Movement booking page at Schumacher College.