Jackie Hunt-Broersma runs 104 marathons in 104 days as an athlete with amputated limbs

At least that’s what Jackie Hunt-Broersma, an amputated endurance runner based in Arizona, may have thought before she took up the sport nearly six years ago.

“I wasn’t a runner before I had an amputation,” she said CNN Sports“I thought the runners were crazy … But I gradually became addicted to it.”

Fast forward to 2022, the 46-year-old Hunt-Broersma has just completed his solo feat of running 104 marathons on 104 consecutive days between January and April.

Initially setting a goal of 100 marathons in 100 days, she began the challenge with a few unknowns – “Will my stump last for miles? Will my blade last? ”- but over the weeks she has been surprised again and again.

“I didn’t know how my body would react, and it just showed me how strong our bodies can be,” says Hunt-Broersma. “Every day I just kept doing it and getting stronger and stronger … your body is just amazing.”

Hunt-Broersma ran his 102nd marathon in 102 days in Arizona.

The challenge turned out to be “90% mental versus physical.” Getting used to the motivation to go out every day and run the marathon was often the biggest battle.

“You just never knew what the day would bring,” Hunt-Broersma added.

“It was kind of … going a little current. Some days you just have to finish it – suck it up and (put) one foot in front of the next and just walk away – and then other days I’ll feel great and it’s like you’re flying. “

Peaks and troughs

Running most of the marathons around his home in Gilbert, Arizona, Hunt-Broersma did some on the treadmill and took part in the Boston Marathon for his 92nd.

Racing in the streets of Boston was one of the highlights of the challenge, but there were also many downsides – namely the 50-marathon, when the thought of giving up went through her mind.

“It was a weird moment because I felt good physically,” says Hunt-Broersma.

“My body – it obviously hurt and all that – but there was nothing seriously wrong with it; just my mind was made.

“I had to fight these emotions to overcome it and just say, ‘You know what, no, you can still do it. You can go on. ”And once you’ve overcome that, you just move on to the goal. It’s like you just have to get to those 100. “

Hunt-Broersma is waiting to see if her record attempt at consecutive marathons will be confirmed.

Before that, there was another low point 15 days earlier, when she had decided to divide her daily run into two half marathons to find time to take care of her children.

But after people asked if running a marathon was within the “rules” of the challenge, Hunt-Broersma felt he had no choice but to run another full marathon that night, eventually finishing five minutes before midnight.

“I didn’t want to get to 100, and then he would come back and say, ‘Well, that doesn’t really count.’ I would despair, “she said.

So I said to myself, “Okay, okay, you know what? I’m just going to have to go out and just do this. And that’s what I did. I don’t know how I managed to do it, but I did it … You learn to just suck it up and just do it. “

After completing his 104th marathon, Hunt-Broersma began the process of applying for his achievement to be officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, with the current record of 95 set by the American Alice Clark in 2020

Obtaining a ratified record is not easy. The monthly process includes submitted GPX files from each run, photos of the start, middle and finish, videos and a witness report.

“Honestly, this process is probably more difficult than the current part,” Hunt-Broersma joked.

“Sense of freedom”

Born and raised in South Africa, Hunt-Broersma lived in England and the Netherlands before moving to the United States.

Her leg was amputated after she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare type of cancer affecting the bones or tissue around the bones – in 2001. With her run, which she started 15 years later, she began to assess what the body really is capable of. and on.

Hunt-Broersma is now training for two ultra-marathons later this year.

“When I get amputated, you become very limited – everyone tells you, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that,'” Hunt-Broersma said. “And then when I put on the running blade, there was a sense of freedom. I had the feeling that I was flying and doing something I thought I couldn’t do.”

He started running five kilometers before soon running 10k, half marathons, marathons, and now ultramarathons.

She is currently training to race in Leadville 100, a 100-mile race in Leadville, Colorado called Race Across The Sky in August, and Moab 240, a 240-mile race in the deserts, rocks of Utah and mountains in October.

Racing in these iconic endurance races feels far from the days before Hunt-Broersma started running.

“There was an element in which I was ashamed of who I was,” she said. “I did not want to be amputated. I didn’t want people to see me as different.

“As long as running gives me confidence, I can just be who I am. Since I know my body has run 100 miles, I did all this on a prosthesis, so I’m proud to be who I am now. “

As part of its marathon challenge, Hunt-Broersma raised nearly $ 200,000 for Blade Runners with amputeesa charity that provides running knives – which are often expensive – to people with amputations.

This far exceeded her initial expectations of $ 10,000 – just as she exceeded her own expectations when she ran 104 consecutive marathons.

“My running taught me that I can do a lot more,” says Hunt-Broersma. “I thought it would be a great way to show people what you could do if you just pushed yourself out of your comfort zone.

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