If you’re a betting person, here’s a tip for Sunday’s Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon: Put your money on Lauren Tippets to win.
The 32-year from Pescadero, Calif., has won the 13.1-mile race on this island three times, in 2013, 2014 and 2015 — generally winning easy — before missing last year.
She’s back looking for number four.
“I love coming and running Kauai every year,” Tippets said. “It’s like the perfect combination of beautiful scenery, super challenging, fan support is great and very authentic Hawaiian. I love running past the hula dancers.”
But this self described math nerd is here to do more than run.
Tippets will be marrying Parker Weiss in Poipu five days after the race. They’ll be joined by 50 of their closest friends and family, with nearly 10 of them running the half marathon.
“The race kicks off our week in paradise,” she said in phone interview with TGI.
This wedding/race/vacation allows Tippets to combine her passions into one unforgettable trip.
“Kauai always a really special place for me,” she said.
Tippets took up running after a soccer career that saw her play center midfielder for the lady Blue Devils of Duke University from 2003-2007 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The competition at that level is intense, and Tippets admits she was a little burned out.
“Soccer was my life,” she said.
She was looking for something more relaxing, but also something that would keep her fit, fast and utilize her endurance.
Running was a natural transition.
Her first race was a half marathon in San Francisco. She finished in an hour, 39 minutes. Not bad, she thought, but she could do better.
“I started really enjoying running, so many trails to explore around the Bay Area,” she said. “I just kept going. It was a really good stress reliever.”
And a good way to win ribbons, medals, trophies and accolades when you’re as fast and dedicated as Tippets.
Her decade of running has been marked by consistent training of 60 to 65 miles a week, with plenty of hills and tempo runs in the mix.
She believes the peace and freedom that comes with running is a gift.
“It’s just like me and nature,” she said.
The 5-foot-6, 125-pound Tippets has run the Boston Marathon and owns a personal best of 3 hours, 6 minutes over 26.2 miles.
She has aspirations to qualify for the 2020 Olympic marathon trials, but admits the qualifying time of 2:45 will be difficult to meet.
But if anyone can figure out how to make that happen, to calculate how to get the most out of each mile, to crunch numbers to determine the best chance for success, she can.
Tippets earned a degree in math and a master’s in biomedical engineering at Duke University. She graduated from business school at UCLA last year and works at the Intel Corporation, where she is in an accelerated leadership program and works in product marketing.
Yeah, she’s kind of smart.
“I’m kind of a nerd,” she said, laughing.
A nerd that loves outdoor adventures, like exploring and hiking in national parks. On Kauai, kayaking, snorkeling, and Napali Coast excursions are on the agenda.
“I love all that kind of stuff,” she said.
What about taking easy? She rarely does.
“I’m not the best at relaxing,” Tippets said.
Despite a right hamstring injury that won’t quite go away, she’s feeling good for Sunday’s race.
Her plan is go steady through the Tree Tunnel, hold back a bit, then “turn on the gas” for the final five or six miles and see who’s still there.
Her favorite part of the course is through Omao, a nice downhill stretch where resident come out to cheer on the runners.
“It’s awesome,” Tippets said.
With her fiance, family and friends on hand to root her on, she’s anxious to get to the starting line. Younger sister Katie, the maid of honor, Parker’s older brother Patrick, the best man, will be along those half marathoners.
“So that will be cool,” Tippets said.