Why you should care
Here’s everything you need to know to go the extra mile.
Lisa Smith-Batchen’s passion for extremes is still burning bright as she approaches her 55th birthday. Next spring, she’ll push herself even further, attempting to smash the men’s transcontinental coast-to-coast running record. Frank Giannino set the record back in 1980 when he crossed the nearly 3,100 miles from San Francisco to New York in 46 days and eight hours. To claim the record for herself, Smith-Batchen will have to top Giannino’s pace of 68 miles per day.
As an elite-level ultramarathon runner, when Smith-Batchen says “run faster,” you know it’s not to be taken lightly. On one of her recent “projects,” as she calls her big runs, she tackled the Badwater 135 — known as the most demanding and extreme running race in the world — four times back-to-back, covering a punishing 584 miles from North America’s lowest elevation in Death Valley to the 14,000-foot top of Mount Whitney in the mid-July heat.
To fathom the sheer mental and emotional power that keeps her running, OZY caught up with Smith-Batchen in Los Angeles as she visited the starting line for this upcoming epic run. She explains that she’s found her focus “running for others” and fundraising for dozens of charitable causes. And Smith-Batchen also breaks down some of the surprising weaknesses that form the core of her superhuman strength.