Interview with Lisa Smith-Batchen Badwater Competitor

Tell us about yourself.

I am a Mom, wife and long distance endurance athlete.

Did you have an athletic background growing up?

I went out for our High School track and cross country team and did not make the team. I was told I was too slow. This set me up feeling as if I was “not any good”. I then went on to do swimming, diving, gymnastics, softball. I grew up with 3 older brothers and a younger sister and we had the opportunity to try and do almost every sport. I am a good athlete but not a natural runner.

Tell us about the Badwater event.

Badwater is a 135 mile foot race through Death Valley. The race starts at the lowest point—285 feet below sea level and finishes 135 miles away at the portals of Mt. Whitney which is 8,500 feet. The race is in July when the temperature can be as high as 130. I have run the race 10 times and I have won it 2 times. There are no aid stations to supply you with food, water and ice. You have a crew that drives in a van with all the supplies you need along the way. The course is hot and hilly!

What inspired you to train for the Badwater event?

In 1995 I did the first Eco Challenge in Utah and this is when I first discovered that there was even a running race longer than 26.2 miles.

I could not believe that someone could run 135 miles! The race director of the BW 135 was at the finish line of the Eco Challenge and I was introduced to him. He invited me to run BW that summer. I had 3 months to get ready for Badwater and really had NO idea what I was getting myself into.

I finished the race, it was the hardest thing I had ever accomplished in my life yet it was the most amazing. It was so much more than a race to me, it was a journey of self-discovery and I realized that endurance was where my heart was and still in all of these years later.

How did you train for the Badwater heat?

My first Badwater I was living in New Jersey and only had 3 months to get ready for the race. I have never done any heat training nor lived in the heat to train for the race.

Lisa Smith-Batchen, David Goggins, BadwatterLisa Smith-Batchen speaking to David Goggins at  Badwater.

I feel my mental fortitude is what has been the driving force of my success and the ability to adapt to conditions.Nutrition plays such a big role in the success of this race as does being able to move and change with the conditions, especially the heat.

What is going through your mind after the first 26 miles? Or when it is hottest temps?

The race starts at 100 milesJ The first 26.2 miles seem to go by pretty fast. It is when you hit mile 40 that it really heats up and the big mountain climbs start that things start to get hard. The first 26.2 seems to be a time of relaxing and when all the nerves of the race are left behind. You are in the race and still have a very long way to go.

What was hardest part of the event for you personally?

The hardest part for me is the section between 100 miles and 120 miles. It is the 2nd day in the heat and you have been up all night long. This section is long and flat, boring to say the least and seems to take forever. It is also the place if you have gone out to fast you are paying a high price (which I have done) and where you are just ready to be done!

Video—Lisa Smith-Batchen: 20 years of Mondays – changing passion into purpose

What is one thing you wish you would have done that you will do in next race?

I don’t think I will run the race again, been there done that. My next is to run the BW course 4 times back to back and call it the Badwater Quad. I will start at Badwater (the start of the race) go to the finish line, the climb Mt. Whitney which is the highest point at 14,860 then run back to the start and do it all over again. 600 miles. I hope to do this in 10-11 days and raise a ton of awareness and money for clean water.

Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to try longer endurance races?

YES. Dream big. Reach for the stars and keep reaching. You can do anything you want to do with the right training. Ask as many questions as you can and learn all you can. If I can do it you can do it.

What running shoes did you wear? Compression socks? Bodyglide?

I have worn several different shoes over the past years but my favorites are Pearlizumi and Hoka. I wear 110% compression socks, tights and shorts. I use Bodyglide. I wear Injinji toe socks. I use salt stick and I run in NuuMuu running dresses!

What is your next big goal?

I am glad you have asked! At the end of May I will run from Driggs Idaho to Salt Lake City Utah 450 miles. I will weave between several towns. 75 miles a day for 6 days. I will finish at Hope Circle at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.


At the completion of the Badwater race.

The purpose of this run is to raise money and awareness for kids with cancer. 100% of funds will go to help the Chidren in the children wing of Huntsman Cancer. They will find a cure. The Huntsman family are the most amazing people, they give and give and I want to give to the children. The hope is that all bills are paid!! The next is Badwater4 Good water which is 600 miles.

Where can we find out more about you?

I have a website where I have all my races and info listed.

Many thanks for the interview.

Are you kidding, thank you! “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”


QUESTION: A couple of running friends suggested to me I start learning the pose running method. How do I do it? I feel really awkward.

ANSWER: Check out this article: Pose Running Tips.

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ANSWER: Here’s an article that will help: 5K Running Tips.

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