At age 54, Lisa Smith-Batchen is one of the most prolific and famous athletes in the world. In 2016,
she will do the Trans Con Run across America with a goal of running 50 miles a day from Los
Angeles, CA to New York City, NY. Smith-Batchen has numerous first place female wins, including
being the first and only American female to win the event in its 18-year history.
By Alix Shutello
Lisa Smith-Batchen hit the endurance scene back in 1995 during the Eco Challenge days, when Mark Burnett was getting his feet wet in the world of televised adventure racing. Meanwhile, some of the most well-known athletes of the world – folks like Marshall Ulrich and Mark Macy, among others – were toeing the line with Smith and other amazing athletes who were forming teams and competing in Burnett’s first race, the Utah Eco Challenge, in April 1995. While competing in the Utah Eco Challenge, Smith-Batchen met Matt Fredrick, then owner of the Badwater 135. Smith had no idea people ran distances beyond the marathon; but just two and a half months after competing in her first Eco Challenge, she ran the
Badwater 135 in Death Valley in July 1995.
“Back then, nutrition was all about consuming tons of jelly beans, donuts, Coke and Gatorade,” Smith said. “I was clueless, to say the least.”
Smith-Batchen, who is originally from New Jersey, was mesmerized by the beauty of Death Valley.
“While I was running the race, there were a lot of ‘HOLY SHIT!’ kind of moments, but I fell in lovewith the desert, and the course; and felt like I was home.”
Lisa finished in second place overall and proclaimed that the experience was an amazing journey of self-discovery. Smith-Batchen has gone on to run Badwater 10 times, including last year’s 584-mile race where she ran four times up and back through Death Valley to raise money for her nonprofit, Badwater4Goodwater. “I yearn for and am drawn to the desert,” she said. When it comes to Smith-Batchen’s running career, it’s pretty simple: she started with a 5k, then a 10k, a marathon and then progressed all the way to an ultra without stopping. Between her first marathon and the Badwater 135 was a half Ironman, a full Ironman and the Eco Challenge.
Smith-Batchen has been a coach for over 30 years, as well as a massage therapist, motivational speaker, race director and teacher. She runs Dream Chasers Events with her husband, fellow ultra runner Jay Batchen; together they put on a couple of races each year, including the Jackson Hole Marathon and Yellowstone 100-miler. Smith-Batchen runs each mile for a purpose, running 1 mile for 1,000 children (mostly orphans) who are in need of clean water in Africa.
This article was featured in the July/August Issue of Endurance Racing Magazine, a women-owned company. Please consider a $12 subscription. https://eeendura.myshopify.com/