Reesha Lewis


After 9 annual editions of Blackall, there is only one runner who has claimed the dual 50km and 100km crowns: Reesha Lewis. 

Reesha made a sensation in 2020 when - following her dramatic fitness and weightloss journey - she blitzed the 50km and set a new female course record.  The following year she stepped up to the 100km and repeated the same feat, taking out the female title and smashing the female course record that had stood since the inaugural race.   In 2022 she once again won the female title with another sub-11 performance.  Her dominance has been unmatched, and as the holder of the course records for both the 100km and 50km race formats, she is an undisputed Blackall Icon.

Reesha, thanks for chatting to us!  You're the 100km defending champ - will we see you back at Blackall?  Either in 2023 or sometime down the track?

Of course I’ll be heading back to Blackall as it is home turf and where my ultra journey started. But unfortunately with ongoing hamstring injuries since Blackall 2022, I will only be out on course supporting and encouraging runners this year.


Image: Reesha setting out on her first Blackall event, the 50km in 2020


You've won both the 50 and the 100km events  - do you have a preference for one distance or the other?

I do prefer the longer races as it takes me a good 30ks to warm up after that I seem to only get stronger as the race continues. Plus twice the distance twice the fun isn’t that right? lol.


Image: "Twice the fun" - Reesha taking a moment after crossing the line to claim her 2nd 100km win, 2022

You set the 100km course record in 2021 and only narrowly missed lowering it again last year... what goes through your mind at the start line of a race that results in those sorts of performances?  Do you have a pre-visualised plan to have a crack at the record, are you adjusting things based on conditions, or do you just see how it comes together on the day?

I try and stay relaxed and calm but I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well, I hate the start of the races I almost feel claustrophobic until 5 to 7ks in which is usually about the time I start to break away from the group and find my own pace and run within myself and hope for the best lol.


Image: Reesha shaking free of the early claustrophobia on the way to Kondalilla, 2022

Blackall is renowned for having a bit of everything in terms of terrain and scenery.   Do you have a favourite section?  Any sections that you particularly dread?

The bluff is hands down my favourite part as it is quite a big climb and I get to break out my hiking stomp and the amount of 50k runners you bump into while heading up, some loving it but most hating every moment lol. The love support and encouragement is truly beautiful its almost like we're a team tackling it together. The bits I least enjoy are any road or flat sections. 


Image: All smiles during the bluff ascent, Reesha's favourite section of the course, 2021

I imagine you'd be in hot demand with run directions asking you to come and attend races all over the place, what sort of selection criteria do you have for choosing a race?  How does Blackall fit into that selection process?

Well, with a lot of races, if you win you automatically get free entry the next year which is awesome but it doesn’t always fall into your training plans.  And if you continue to do the same races every year it doesn’t allow the opportunity for anything new. Blackall will always be the first race I put into the calendar, preferably I would like to do the 100 each year but depending on what other races I have in the calendar my goal will be to make the start line of 1 of the 3 distances each year.  


Image: Arriving at the start line, 2022

What sort of nutrition are you using on a race like Blackall?

Nutrition is always the hardest thing to get right but my “A” crew Ian and Ange keep me on track and make sure I’m consuming everything in my pack from checkpoint to checkpoint. So I don’t have to carry as much liquid I do mix my flask, sugar and sodium mixes strong so I drink one flask in an hour and a half and have 3 to 4 spring gels between each checkpoint. The amount of water I carry varies between checkpoints depending on how long the section will take me and how hot it is, but anywhere between a litre to 2 litres. I also like to drink Solo or coconut water with honey or a banana up the bluff (that’s if my crew remembers them lol.) Things slow down from 60ks, I’m usually feeling quite good and go on how I feel but I do look forward to having a Coca Cola at 80ks it gives me a little kick to get home. I have been known to ask for one from 40ks onwards but if I have it early it messes with my belly.


Image: Reesha kicked home hard on her record-setting 50km run, 2020

What's your favourite non-running element of the Blackall weekend?

Arriving, getting organised and heading to the briefing for bib collection its always good to catch up with everyone, the atmosphere and special vibe that comes with an event like this is amazing. 


Image: The race-eve atmosphere is a favourite part of the weekend for Reesha, 2021

What's your post-B100 recovery routine?  How long would you typically wait before attempting your next ultra race?

I recover with cake! I love bananas and caramel so a good banoffee or 2 or 3 does the trick, I also treat myself to a magnesium float at City Cave. Blackall is pretty much the last event for the year, I usually keep moving it helps flush the fluid but in terms of racing I’ll usually train through Christmas and look at doing a 50 around February March the following year.


Image: Reesha contemplating the switch from racing to recovery modes as she receives her finishers bell from fellow icon Stewy Grills, 2022

Your fitness journey has been well reported, so it's fair to say there'd be a significant community of runners - both women and men - that look to your story as a huge source of inspiration... is there anyone that inspires you?  (Either in running, fitness more broadly, or just in life?) I follow a lot of runners and different athletes on Instagram/ social media, and I’m often inspired but also impressed with the mental strength of some people out there and their ability to push themselves beyond limits that blow my mind. Whether that be backing up marathon after marathon for a number of months, or watching runners at last man standing or dead cow gully run loops for days, 24 hour burpee challenges! Watching people struggle, but not give up, adds fuel to my fire and makes me want to push myself to a new level. 


Image: Fuel to the fire - another Bluff climb, 2022

What's your advice to someone who might be sitting on the sidelines, too intimidated to attempt trail running, or try their hand at an ultra? I always suggest starting with Parkruns - its a free event and everyone’s welcome.   They are really informative and great way to meet people and find running buddies.


Image: Crossing Baxter's Creek bridge with running buddy (and fellow 50km champ) Cecilia Mattas, 2021


Are you a headphones and music and/or podcast type runner?  

I have my head phones cranking the whole time, with anything from ACDC to Elton John I just hit shuffle and everything on my play list reminds me of a milestone in my life. I do pause them to share some ks and have a gas bag with other runners.

Image: Reesha sporting her cranking headphones, 2020

Any particular tech or kit or equipment that you can't live without on a long run?

Toilet paper!


Do you have any pre-race rituals/superstitions or lucky charms that you rely on for race days?

In 2022, a couple of days before my first 100k at Blackall, my daughter Nevayah came to me with her Wonder Women bow and told me I could wear it during the race because I am Wonder Women and I am super strong. I’ve worn it in every race since then, I pair it with my pineapple earings and if we have personalised bib names I always have bananas. They are my 3 go too lucky charms.

Image: Wonder Woman.  Reesha wearing her daughter's bow on her 100km debut (which she went on to win!), 2021

What lies ahead for you in the coming 12-18 months? 

I don’t have any races on my radar as of yet, I'm struggling with injuries so this year my main focus is recovery. 


If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to go for a run with, who would it be with and where would you run?

My father is still alive in his 60s, he was a good runner and football player when he was young, I’d love to run with him in his prime and take him on some of my favourite runs either Mapelton or Mount Cootha. 

Image: The final meters.  Reesha sets the 100km record at 10:41:26, 2021

What's the best way for people to follow you?  Instagram or Strava under Reesha Lewis  


Image: Finished! 2022

Thanks so much Reesha, wishing you all the best with the recovery and looking forward to seeing you lending your support in a few weeks time!


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Check out all our images of previous Blackall races on our Past Events page