North Face 100 Blue Mountains 2012: Team Hoka ultra runner, Jess Baker

With nicknames running the spectrum from Dr. Jess to The Terminator, Jess Baker was the first of the current crop of runners named to represent Team Hoka. She caught our attention with her brilliant 100-miler debut on the Great North Walk in November 2011, running the second fastest women’s time ever recorded on the course covering the brutal 174km in 25:20. With a number of marathon podiums, a Top 10 at The North Face 100 in 2011, and abundant communication skills evident from her work in the field of child psychology, Jess seemed the kind of complete runner and raw talent around whom we could begin to build an exciting team.

Baker’s terms were tough, forcing us to send in The Negotiator…

In the 6 months since she came on board, she has exceeded both our expectations and our hopes. Part of the 5-member Team Born To Run, she is in the middle of completing the Racing The Planet’s 4 Deserts Grand Slam. Running 250km multiday stage races in Chile’s Atacama, China’s Gobi, Egypt’s Sahara, and Antarctica within a period of roughly 7 months, the team is promoting a newly formed charitable foundation, aimed at promoting better health through running, and specifically raising research dollars for Type 1 Diabetes.

Returning from the world’s highest desert in March, she almost immediately set out on the GNW250, running from Newcastle to Sydney alongside Commonwealth 24-hour rep and bee-powered endurance star Meredith Quinlan, covering over 250km of flooded rolling technical single trail in 54:52, sleeping less than 40 minutes en route and shattering the previous record laid down by Darrel ‘Poppy’ Robins and his cohorts by more than 11 hours. Competing in the World 24-hour Rogain Championships in Prague in August alongside Australian World Champion Gill Fowler, 2012 is proving to be anything but quiet for this compulsive trail runner.

Hitting the steep stuff in New Zealand with trail running tour operator Malcolm Law.

Hoka OneOne: How hard are you tapering, and is it the best or worst part of training for you? 
Jess Baker: This week has been so hectic it has been great…and it was nice to play football on Sunday without tens of kilometers in my legs from the day before! 

Hoka OneOne: What do you think it is about TNF100 that galvanizes such growing excitement from runners old and new each year? Jess: The beauty and harshness of the mountains.  Geeky comment, but I would urge everyone to have a read of Henry Lawson‘s poem the “Blue Mountains“; as you run the course it comes to life.

Hoka OneOne: With some big running and racing already done this year, how will you define success on the day?

Jess: I am excited about all the Born to Run team competing in North Face  this year– a strong finish by all members will be an awesome success.

Jess pushing the pace with Team Born to Run in Chile, March 2012

Hoka OneOne: You’ve just set a course record running from Newcastle to Sydney on the GNW250 with Meredith Quinlan, you’re in the middle of the 4 Deserts Grand Slam with Team Born to Run leaving for the Gobi Desert in China in less than 3 weeks: where does running 100km fast without 40 degree heat or a 10kg backpack sit in the scheme of things for you right now?

Jess: I was soo excited about the prospect of running “fast”, and my knees and shoulders have been VERY happy to drop the backpack for a bit.  I feel that this is perhaps the fittest that I have ever been.  However, I am also carrying the most niggles I have ever had.  I accept (and kind of embrace!) pain in an Ultra, but wasn’t quite banking on it from the start.  Let’s see who wins; the fit cardio or the painful niggles and unfamiliar negative cognitions.  I am sure when I step out on the trail in my sparkly rainbow beanie, all will be good again.  🙂

Finishing the GNW 100-miler early on a Sunday morning in November, like so few before her.

Hoka: Anything you’d like to say about your shoes?  

Jess: They took me 250km across the salt plains of Chile, and 250km+ on the rugged trails of GNW!

2 Responses to North Face 100 Blue Mountains 2012: Team Hoka ultra runner, Jess Baker

  1. nigelrushby says:

    I think somebody should check to see if she is part machine ……

    • hokaau says:

      Is it really The NigeeBaby!!
      : )
      We have had Jess independently tested and she is part machine, but the machine was cyborg, and being part human is therefore permitted in ultra running.

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