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Lisa Tamati

Having run more than 60,000km to date, Lisa has traversed on foot almost every major desert in the world, run the 2250km length of New Zealand in 38 days (averaging over 50km a day), and is among the top female ultra-athletes in the world.

But she’s not just a runner. Her infectious smile, her ability to hold a room, and general love for life has made her a huge hit with her running fans, readers of her book and viewers of her TV shows.

Lisa’s personal story is one that legends are made of. She’s an asthmatic who was told that for her, sport would never be possible. She then suffered three broken vertebrae at the age of 21, with doctors recommending fusing the broken vertebrae to avoid pain. Then there was a controlling boyfriend who left her in the middle of the Libyan Desert adventure with no way out but to run. And run she did, out of the desert and into history as an inspiration to tens of thousands of runners and non-runners alike.

Running Hot and Running Extreme are best-sellers. Her run for Cure Kids, taking in the length of New Zealand, made her a household name Down Under. Now she is taking on the world, with more book series in the pipeline, not to mention a massive line-up of adventure runs planned globally which will in the worldwide running and adventure community continue to inspire.

Lisa spent a number of years cycling and tramping her way around Europe, Africa, the USA and Canada, her passions concentrated on exploring personal limits and discovering new horizons both physically and emotionally.

But at the age of 21 Lisa suffered an accident while cycling through NZ, breaking two vertebrae and compressing two discs, which had doctors advising that she would never be able to run. She had also battled severe asthma since early childhood, but was determined never to let these things make a difference in the life she chose to lead.

In 1997 Lisa was invited to take part in a four-person expedition across the Libyan desert on a 250km to an unstable political and military situation. The draw of this incredibly beautiful and untouched part of the Sahara was worth the risk. Equipped with only 2 litres of water a day (that was all they could carry), and with backpacks weighing over 35kg, they set off. It was to be a an adventure that would change her life. Physically pushing her body beyond the limits, it would take her nearly two years to fully recover, but it sparked a love for the desert that drew her back to the sand many times after.

After reading about the famous Marathon des Sables ultra race, Lisa compared distances, backpack weights, water supply and medical controls and decided she could give this a go. Her first ultra marathon a multi-day stage race across the Moroccan Sahara, was the beginning of Lisa’s ultra running career that has now spanned more than 15 years.

Running has become an important part of her life, her philosophy, her way to inspire and help others, and her passion. Today, however, it is not only deserts that draw her but geographies across the globe and she is one of only a few full time adventure runners on the planet. Lisa believes that there is so much more to explore, to learn; more limits to push and more people to inspire.

Nickname?

Lis

D.O.B?

24.09.1968

Hometown?

New Plymouth

Favourite food?

Thai, Japanese

What music you listen to?

All sorts.

Three things you always pack?

Running gear, back pack and buff

Favourite Movie?

Desert Runners by Jen Steinman

Biggest Strength?

Mental ability to push on, Endurance

Biggest Weakness?

Lack of speed, asthma

Proudest Sporting Moment?

Death Valley Badwater ultra marathon finishing  x2, Crossin Libyan Desert without outside help, Running through New Zealand 2250km.

Most Humbling Moment?

There’s been a few, but most notably Trans 333km race in Niger getting food poisoning and having to pull out after 222km. 

Favourite TNF Product?

Single tracks and my running skirt.

Causes you are passionate about?

Making people believe in themselves and take on huge challenges, inspiring and motivating others to run long distances and coaching. Changing lives through running, Documentary film making.

Favourite destination for your sport?

Sahara

Favourite piece of history in your sport?

Badwater Ultra marathon

Who inspires you most?

My mother who taught us kids to never give up, chase our dreams and live our lives at full speed. 

2012

  • EXPEDITION 140km DESERT

Run the Planet television pilot in the near Alice Springs, Central Australia.

2011

  • ULTRA RACE 222km ALTITUDE!

La Ultra-The High, ‘Toughest Footrace on the planet’, running over the two highest motorable passes in the Himalayas going up to 5400m. Second woman ever and one of seven athletes

  • ULTRA RACE 100km MOUNTAIN

The North Face 100km event the Blue Mountains, Australia.

2010

  • MULTI DAY ADVENTURE/DESERT

Sahara Desert stage race, 5th place. Egypt.

  • MULTI DAY ADVENTURE/DESERT

Gobi Desert stage race, 2nd place. China.

2009

  • EXPEDITION RUN 2250km

Running the length of New Zealand, 52 marathons in 42 days for charity.

  • REPRESENTATIVE, NZ

Commonwealth 24hr Champs, Keswick, England.

  • ULTRA RACE 217km BADWATER

Ultramarathon through Death Valley, USA, 9th place.

  • NATIONAL TITLES, NZ

100km nationals, 2nd place.

2008

  • NATIONAL TITLES, NZ

World Champs, 1st place.

  • NATIONAL TITLES, NZ

100km nationals, 2nd place.

  • ULTRA RACE 217km BADWATER

Death Valley,USA, 10th place.

  • ULTRA RACE 160km MOUNTAIN

Round the Mountain, Taranaki, NZ.

  • ULTRA RACE 90-MILE BEACH

Houtaewa Run, NZ, 3rd place.

  • ULTRA RUN 100km

Oxfam100

2007

  • 24HR ULTRA Auckland, NZ
  • ULTRA RACE 222km DESERT

Trans Niger, Niger

  • ULTRA RACE 338km

Isar Run, Germany, 4th place

  • 24HR WORLD CHAMPS

Czech Republic.

  • 24HR ULTRA

Worschach Race, Austria

  • 6HR ULTRA

Mank Race, Austria

2001-2006

  • MULTI DAY 240km DESERT

Marathon des Sables, Morocco, 33rd

  • ULTRA RACE 168km DESERT

8th place Desert Cup Jordan

  • MULTI DAY 240km DESERT

Marathon des Sables, Morocco, 10th place.

  • ULTRA RACE 50km, Krems, Austria
  • ULTRA RACE 50km, Hungaria
  • 10HR ULTRA, Burgenland, Austria
  • ULTRA RACE 78km, K78 Switz.
  • 24HR ULTRA, Worschach x 2, Austria
  • 12HR ULTRA Mank, Austria
  • 6 HR ULTRA Schwechat, Austria
  • + OVER 50 MARATHONS

1997

  • EXPEDITION 250km

Crossing Libyan desert unassisted

  • EXPEDITION 150km

Arabian desert crossing

  • 1994-97 Cycled and trekked, canoed or kayaked, through countries including Sweden, France, Norway, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, New Zealand, Tunisia, Canada, USA, Egypt.

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