For many people, the idea of running a marathon is quite a challenge.
But for 47-year-old Jacky Hunt-Broersma from Gilbert, Arizona, USA, it’s a way of life.
Between January and April of 2022, Jacky ran 104 marathons in 104 consecutive days, earning the record title for the most consecutive days to run a marathon distance (female) – LA2.
LA2 refers to an impairment classification - put in place to give every record hopeful a level playing field.
The distance of a full marathon is 26.2 miles (42.1 km), meaning Jacky ran a total of over 2,724 miles (4,383.8 km).
But what makes Jacky’s achievement extra special is that she is missing her left leg.
“I started my running journey six years ago,” said Jacky.
It wasn’t something I did before my amputation but once I lost my leg to cancer I had so many things I was told I shouldn’t do or couldn’t do anymore and running was one of those things.
Determined to test her limits and prove the world wrong, Jacky decided to give the sport a try.
“It was a little more complicated getting into running as an amputee as I couldn’t just put on a pair of running shoes and head out the door,” she said.
“I needed a special prosthetic leg so I could run. This frustrated me a little because I wanted to do what everyone else did.”
Jacky began researching prosthetic legs and started working on getting a running leg.
Originally, she only planned on running 5 k distances and thought running marathons was a "little crazy", but once she got into running, she began to push her distances further and further.
“Before I knew it, I was running marathons and ultramarathons,” said Jacky.
It made me realize how strong I could be, and it also helped me to accept my body the way it was.
Jacky says she began running consecutive marathons not only to see if she was capable but also to show the world what amputee athletes are capable of.
She also wanted to highlight the cost of prosthetics and to raise funds for other athletes like herself so that they too could find the joy in running.
“I then realized that a female amputee had never done this before so it would be an LA2 record and that was so exciting,” she said.
To maintain her stamina, Jacky sticks to a strict training regime.
She trains all distances, although she prefers longer distances of 50 to 100 miles.
“I usually run 5 days a week, two days are hills and speedwork and the other days are long runs and recovery run days,” she said.
The days I am not running I will use for strength training.
Despite her rigorous training, Jacky’s record achievement wasn’t completely seamless.
“My stump swelled up a lot and I had to switch to an old prosthetic leg I had because that leg was bigger,” she said.
“Mentally it was really hard to keep going every day and I had to make sure I was keeping positive.”
Jacky says it was also challenging to consume the right amount of nutrients.
“At one point I just didn’t want to see food anymore, but I knew I needed to get calories in, so I switched to smoothies,” she said.
“That was a lot easier on my stomach.”
In fact, when Jacky hit the halfway mark during her record attempt, she was just about ready to quit.
She admitted her body was tired and that she had to convince herself to keep going.
“On that hard day I would just tell myself to take one step at a time and keep moving forward,” she said.
So, I focused on each mile, and before I knew it, I had done marathon number 51 and so I kept going until I got to 104.
Jacky is grateful for the encouraging and supportive people she met during her record attempt and for her children, who she says are her biggest supporters.
“My kids kept checking in on me every day before they left for school and when they got home,” she said.
“It would always be the same question. ‘Did you finish your Marathon?’ I knew how horrible I would feel if I let them down.”
Jacky doesn’t have any plans to stop running and in August will begin a new journey of running a half marathon (21 km or 13.1 miles) every day for cancer research, in honour of being 21 years cancer free.
Her goal is to run 5,250 km (3,262.1 miles), representing the number of people who are diagnosed with cancer every day.
“Each day I will be running in honour of someone either fighting cancer, a survivor, or someone who lost their life,” she said.
My followers have been giving me names of people they would like me to honour. It’s a great way of giving back.
She would also like to attempt the record title for the most consecutive days to run an ultra marathon distance by unilateral below knee amputee (LA2) (female).
For those wanting to attempt a similar record title, she says to remember that we can all do hard things, and you are stronger and capable of so much more than you think.
“Running changed my life,” said Jacky.
Suddenly I wasn’t disabled anymore, but very able.
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