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“Soul Runner” Hayden Hawks – I love running [Copy link]

zhanglin | 2018-02-27 11:33 2820 0

Hayden Hawks sent me a message: “I saw your post on Facebook about Qi Min, the Chinese runner, which distance is he doing at Gaoligong? It would be so cool to race against him! He sounds awesome!”

Hayden was disappointed when I told him that Qi Min will be running the 100 mile MGU, not the 125km RCE. 

Hayden can relate to Qi Min, even though they do not speak each other’s languages and one is American from Utah, the other Chinese from Yunnan – they are both former elite road runners who changed to running in the mountains, they are kindred spirits.

In this interview, this friendly young American tells how excited he be starting his career as a professional trail runner and how much he is looking forward to racing in Gaoligong. 

Hello Hayden, how has training been going?

Really well! I am doing high mileage now, getting ready for Gaoligong!

What mileage are doing?

Last week I did 115 miles with 20,000 feet of elevation, this week I will do about 120-130 miles, next couple of weeks 140-150 miles, then will start reducing mileage.

Where do you train?

Utah, I am from St George, and I still live and train here now. The altitude is about 3000 feet, not too high, but I can get to mountains with 10 -11,000 feet elevation within 30 minutes.

You are fully professional runner now?

Yeah…I guess I am, but I coach as well, I have been doing online coaching. And I am also a stay at home dad!! My wife s working as a school teacher.

You were a college athletics star, correct?

I had a good athletics career, I competed for my university – South Utah, it is located in Cedar City. Altitude there is about 6000 feet, great for training. I raced on track a lot, but I would run on trails whenever I could. I raced in 5k and 10k and also cross country. I was an All-American athlete for cross country. My 5k PB is 13:51 and 10k – 28:53. 

These are very fast 5 and 10k PBs! Why did not you become a track or road racing professional?

I thought about it! I contacted some professional training groups, I seriously considered running half and full marathons professionally, but, I have to say, my heart was not in it! Yes, I love running fast, I loved racing on the track when I was at university, but I grew up in the mountains. When I was a kid, my dad would take me fishing, camping, hiking, we spent a lot of time in the mountains as a family. So, my heart was in running trails, not road! And if my heart is not in it, then I would not be able to do my best at it. I can only be my best at something that I truly love.

So, the switch to trail was easy?

Yes, I excelled quickly at trail running, it was an easy transition. I quickly realized I liked it more than track.

Why aren’t you doing the 168km MGU at Gaoligong?

I am not ready for a 100 miler. UTMB this year will be my first 100-mile race. By the way, how is the course at Gaoligong?

This is a runner’s course, it is very runnable, you will like it!

Great! I like runnable courses!

What do you know about Gaoligong by UTMB course?

It looks amazing, I saw the pictures! I have been trying to look up as much as I can, I have never been to China... It will be a good experience, to see a new land. I am really excited.

Your aim is to become the first American to win UTMB, correct?

Yes, will be my first 100 miler, I know it will be tough to win, but is my main focus for the whole year! I will be living in Courmayeur for the whole summer, getting to know the race course.

Is your whole family coming with you?

Yes, my wife and son, his name is Crosby, he is 6 months old, we have our place to live set up already! I am very excited to go and train and live in France! We love to experience new cultures, new people. We start in France and will then be travelling around the world, chasing different races for a whole year.

What races?

First Gaoligong, then a race in Spain called Penyagolosa, it is part of Ultra Trail World Tour; then a small race in Slovakia in June, then UTMB in August, after UTMB it is a50k race in India and then Ultra Trail Cape Town in December.

That’s a lot of travelling and a lot of different cultures!

Hopefully my son will learn to speak French before English!

Are your wife and son coming to Gaoligong?

My brother is coming with me, but my wife cannot, she is teaching. 

What did you study at university, by the way?

I did Exercise Science, I wanted to go to medical school later – maybe I will go, who knows? I want to continue running, I am enjoying this life of professional runner. It has been my dream to be a pro runner!  I want to do it as long as I possibly can. I love running, my friends call me Soul Runner, I run with my whole heart! My wife is a collegiate runner, she is very, very fast! Running is a very big part of our lives.

What would you say to road runners who want to start trail running?

Don’t be afraid of hills! Don’t be afraid to run up them! Love the outdoor and love mountains! 

I want to thank you to everyone at Gaoligong by UTMB for the invite. I am really excited to come to China and Gaoligong, to run there! It’s a dream come true and I appreciate everything you are doing for me! Thank you all very much!

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