For ultrarunner Lucy Bartholomew winning the coveted Women in Sport One to Watch Award presented by Toyota last week was not only a “complete honour” but it was also an exciting recognition of her sport on a national level.
Toyota are committed to supporting and celebrating people who strive for fulfilment in their chosen field and those looking to ‘start their impossible.’ As Lucy explains “trail running and all terrain isn't really that well known. And so to be up against people [for the award] that surf, skateboard and play tennis, some really big commercialised sports, it's pretty cool to be recognised for something that's as simple as just running in the mountains!”
However, what the 22-year-old plant-based athlete calls ‘running in the mountains’, is something that most people wouldn’t dream of attempting.
In fact, last year Lucy ran over 15 events ultra races – that’s about 1000km of competing and 5,000km in training under her belt. A feat she credits to running long distance as a teenager.
“I ran my first 100k when I was 15 and I ran it along side my dad. For me at that age it wasn't about the ‘100 kilometres’,” explains Lucy. “It's such a big number and when you focus on that, you think, “Wow, triple digits! That that's huge!” But I was like, “Oh, I'm just gonna go and run with my dad.’”
The fact Lucy’s approach to running and her mindset of ‘not counting kilometres’ was a way for her to start her impossible of running 100km and now she is a converted long distance runner with a bright future in front of her
“It’s about switching up my mentality and not making it about the distances and the numbers,” she explains. “Instead I just go for as long as I want to and just remember why I'm doing this and how I love being able to move for this amount of time. I think numbers can really numb the enjoyment of sports.”
And it’s this love of long-distance running that compelled Lucy to compete in her first 100-mile (160.9km) race this year, the gruelling Western States 100 in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, where she was the highest placed Australian ever to complete the race.
It’s an event that few runners ever get the chance to compete in. This year alone 8,000 people worldwide applied for it, with only 300 being selected.
“My dad has been trying to get into this race for seven years!” Lucy laughs. “It was my first hundred-miler and first time running in the U.S. and I just had the best time. It was a race that people said I ran just blissfully unaware of how far a hundred miles is! But I just enjoyed every moment.”
So what’s next for this ‘one to watch’? Her longest race yet: the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge, a seven-day, 130-mile (209km) multi-stage race in its 15th year. And while that sounds like an impossibly long race, in true Lucy style, she isn’t thinking about the length of the race, she’s just excited to “run and hang out” in Costa Rica.