Lisa Smith-Batchen has been helping James Murray train for his 100-mile run across Grand Cayman.
Murray describes 50-year-old Smith-Batchen, who is a coach as well as an accomplished long-distance runner and who will be joining him on his cross-Cayman run, as a “legend” in ultra-running circles.
She is the only American to have won the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara, a gruelling five-stage race over seven days in the Sahara desert.
She has also completed the infamous Badwater Ultra-marathon nine times, including a double crossing, and has won the race twice. Badwater is held every July and covers 135 miles non-stop from Death Valley to Mount Whitney, California, in temperatures up to 130F (55c).
Last summer, Smith-Batchen became the first person to run 50 miles in each of the 50 US states to raise money for orphans.
It seems apt that she’s helping Murray with his 100-mile “A Crazy Idea” plan. As she ran in Texas, state 23 of the 50 states she was crossing over 63 days, she broke a bone in the arch of her foot. With that injury, she ran another 1,350 more miles in 27 states.
That may seem crazy, but as she has explained in interviews, she was already nearly half way through the run and she didn’t want to let people down.
She is co-owner and founder of the Dreamchasers Foundation and she and her husband Jay Batchen offer personalised training and camps to help other athletes achieve their goals.
Murray found her online as she offers online training to athletes. She was in the middle of her 50-state odyssey, dubbed Running Hope Across America, when he first got in touch with her.
In 2004, Smith-Batchen became the first person ever to do the Grand Slam of four 100-milers (Western States, Vermont, Leadville, and Wasatch) plus Badwater in the same summer.
She is featured in Christopher McDougall’s book on ultra-running, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen”, in which he describes her as “the amazingly sunny and pixie-tailed ultrarunner from Idaho who trained through blizzards to win a six-day race in the Sahara, [who] talks about exhaustion as if it’s a playful pet. ‘I love the Beast,’ she says. ‘I actually look forward to the Beast showing up, because every time he does, I handle him better. I get him more under control.’
He continues: “Once the Beast arrives, Lisa knows what she has to deal with and can get down to work. And isn’t that the reason she’s running through the desert in the first place-to put her training to work? To have a friendly little tussle with the Beast and show it who’s boss?”