Meet Hannah Leonard. . Han is an incredibly talented Sydney resident who is involved in many circles both in and out of the running community. Han was kind enough to make some time to share her story during her busy schedule as she gets ready to take on The Speed Project in LA on March 29. Read on to learn more about how running has become a huge part of who Hannah is today...
Recently I’ve been asked a few times on “the why” behind my running. Running has become so much a part of who I am that this question really stumped me. Think of it as me asking you why do you breath? – my first reaction, as yours would be, is that I just do.
This self-reflection on running really came to a peak in December when I found out I’d managed to put a decent crack in my femur (enter Frank the Fracture). To say there were a few tears shed would be putting it lightly – I lost a whole part of who I identified as. Now I know that sounds extreme, but it really was devastating. No running for 8 weeks. Crutches for the first 3. Light swimming. I was living in a nightmare of my own creating, I think my most used phrase for that first week was “I’m just so sad”.. Now I am well aware there are worse things that happen to people, but also that you’re allowed to be sad when your injured. (so long as you don’t wallow in self-pity) As long as you can acknowledge that you get to grow from this, you get to learn and you get given the ability to come back stronger.
I believe I have this “I just run” relationship with running as I really have always just ran. It came organically as I was always active and playing 100 different sports, so I simply ran for fitness. When high School ended I continued running as I enjoyed it for an outlet and for how it sets you up for the day. If you get up and run then you’ve already accomplished something.. No matter what happens from then on, no one can take that sense of achievement away for the day.
The first run I did was they Sydney harbour 10km in 2017 as I was given a mate’s entry. I PB’d with a time of 37minutes which is probably when I thought that maybe I should start taking my running a bit more seriously. Then I entered my first ultra with a friend – where we raced the Kepler Challenge in December in 2017 (highly recommended this race in NZ) and then I caught the ultra-bug. The trail running community really has a way of capturing your heart. Go and stand at the finish line of an ultra-event and I’ll wager you shed a few tears. I then entered UTA100 in 2018 with no prior qualifying races I was in the last start group so I gave myself a goal time of 16 hours (which was midnight or alternately just finishing) and scraped in under 14 hours with 3rd in my category. Next up – Surf Coast Century in September – 12 hours and another 3rd.
For me, when it comes to running long distances, it’s about seeing how far I can push myself not just physically but mentally. Endurance events really put you in the hurt locker for finding what you're capable of doing – at 80km into a 100km race it's just you vs what you are capable of. That mental challenge is a big draw card for me.
Then Running also has a huge community of like-minded people all working toward different goals – it’s rewarding to see people thrive through running. I’ve been lucky enough to pace for a few run clubs, and there is nothing like seeing someone go from a run/walk 3km to completing their first 5 or 10km run. For what is a solo sport there is the whole network of support and run clubs which is something that has added this whole new level to my “just run” attitude.
Next up for me: The Speed Project on March 29th – A 550km team relay event from Santa Monica Pier in LA to the Las Vegas sign. Then I’ll be tackling UTA100 again in May. Looking to get to UTMB in 2020 but I’m sure more will come up before then...
You can follow Hannah's running journey through her Instagram HERE:
Images: Lyndon Marceau