Liza Howard

Liza Howard

Liza Howard is a national champion runner with multiple records in distances ranging from marathons to 100 mile trail races.


Lightning at Hardrock 230/365


Lesson: If you cut your emergency blanket down to just your size to save weight at Marathon des Sables, it will not cover both you and and your 6’5 friend when you are trapped in a lighting storm at 12,500 feet at Hardrock. I know.

Brian and I stopped with a few other runners before going over Buffalo Boy Ridge (13,000′) to see which way a storm was headed. It seemed like it was moving away from our route, so we continued on. We got up and over Buffalo Boy and dropped down to about 12,700′ before heading up Green Mountain.

We made it about ten minutes before the storm moved over the top of the mountain. The clouds were black.  There was lightning and thunder, and we’d just started to talk about how we’d wait it out when lightning flashed around us. We hurried from the flat open meadow we were standing in down to some bumps in the terrain. They weren’t big enough to be hills, but they felt slightly safer than flat.  We’d crossed over an old mining road earlier that led down off the mountain, but if we ran back to it now, we’d be even more exposed than we were in the bumps. We hunkered down with a medium-sized rock behind us. Another couple took shelter near another rock about 50 yards away. I pulled off my rain jacket and pulled on all my layers including my rain pants. Then I pulled out the teeny emergency blanket.  I will bring something sturdier next time. Still, it would have served its purpose well if it had been bigger. As it was, my upper body was mostly warm and half of Brian’s torso and face were warm. Thankfully, the hail didn’t last very long.  The rain did though. After a while, both Brian and I started to shiver. And then my leg cramped from the shivering. It was pretty comical — except for the risk of immanent death from the constant lightning.

Neither Brian nor I are exactly how long we waited there. It might have been about an hour. The lightning was close and constant enough that we didn’t have any “Should we go now?” discussions. I looked over at one point, and I saw that the woman next to us was in the lightning position.

All I can think is that she cramped in that position and couldn’t move from it. I was curled up like a puppy on the ground.

Finally the lightning stopped and the thunder sounded farther away and it made sense to move. We were both very grateful to have such a steep climb ahead of us. We were nice and warm again in about 10 minutes.

I’ll keep working on this story. This blog post doesn’t really capture it yet.

What’s making me happy:

Eric’s notes at the end of his Neal Collick interview.

Running: Run 1: 60 minutes easy; Run2: 30 minutes easy.

Comments 2
  • Jay
    Posted on

    Jay Jay

    Reply Author

    Very happy to hear about Band of Runners and your involvement Liza. Thank you so much for your continued support of us in the veteran community; especially those of us who came back from combat a bit ‘different’ than how we left. As a trail runner, I was always interested in pursuing the RWB Trail Camp but could never align the dates with the schedule/commitments I have in my life outside the military. However, I’ll keep BoR on my radar for 2019 and hope to join you.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thanks so much, Jay! I’ve got my fingers crossed the timing works for you in 2019. It’d be wonderful to have you at camp.