Today, I’m thrilled to bring you a Q&A with the incredible Jacky Hunt-Broersma, an ultrarunner who’s currently on a mission to run 100 marathons in 100 days in a bid to inspire others and raise money for the non-profit charity Amputee Blade Runners. Jacky lost her leg to cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer) when she was 26 and runs wearing a prosthetic. She hopes that the funds she raises during this incredible running challenge can be used to give other amputees, including children, the opportunity to be active.
No stranger to ultra-distance events, Jacky has completed multiple ultramarathons and even set a world record in 2020 when she became the first amputee to run 100 miles on a treadmill. All this, and she only began running six years ago!
Now on marathon 38 out of 100, which she fits in alongside coaching work, professional speaking and parenting, Jacky is due to finish her momentous marathon running challenge on the 27th of April. Please do visit her charity giving page here: www.gofundme.com/f/100-marathons-in-100-days.
Thank you for the inspiration, Jacky!
You’re currently partway into running 100 marathons in 100 days – wow! How’s it going, and how are you feeling?
I am feeling pretty good. I have aches and pains at some places, but I’m very happy that my stump is holding out so well. That is always my biggest concern. I’m feeling stronger every day because my body seems to be adapting to the mileage. I am feeling tired, but that’s all part of it. I make sure that I recover as much as possible.
Mentally, how do you avoid feeling overwhelmed by the fact you have a marathon a day until April?
I try not to think about how far I’ve got to go. I take it one day at a time. It is sometimes hard when I finish a marathon. I’m so glad that I’m done, but then I realize I have to start another one soon. It’s just very important to celebrate every day’s victories.
Your challenge is raising money for Amputee Blade Runners – can you share a bit about this?
Amputee Blade Runners is a wonderful charity that provides running blades for amputees, and they work with a lot of kids. It is so amazing to see the kids just enjoying a normal life and running with their friends at school. A blade can cost anything between $10,000 – $20,000, and it isn’t always covered by insurance. Running changed my life. It gave me confidence, and it made me accept who I am. I want this for all amputees because losing a limb is a big trauma, and without any help, it can become very depressing.
Tell us about the prosthetic you use for trail running – is it different to your road running prosthetic, and is it comfortable to wear during ultra-distance events?
I use the same prosthetic leg for road and trail, but the one I run with is great on trails because it has a split toe, so it helps compensate a bit for not having an ankle (sideways movement). The blade I run with is the Fillauer Obsidian blade.
The socket (where my stump connects to the blade) is also a super important part of the prosthetic leg. It has to be comfortable and fit properly. With the distances I run, everything will start hurting after a certain distance, and there aren’t many people doing what I’m doing on a prosthetic leg. This is unchartered territory.
I usually have issues with swelling at the back of my knee on my amputated leg, which then causes my bone to shift, which can be rather painful, and it cuts the blood circulation off. When this happens, it requires me to stop a few times during the ultra and remove my leg to let the blood flow again.
Although you’ve only been running since 2016, you’ve set a world record and you’ve finished countless ultras. What’s your favourite distance, and what is it about ultrarunning that keeps you coming back for more?
The ultrarunning community is definitely one of the major reasons for coming back for more. They are extremely inclusive, and I love the camaraderie. I also love the challenge of ultrarunning and seeing how far you can push your body. It is great to prove the naysayers wrong. My favourite distance is 50 miles.
What does your ultra training typically consist of?
My training program consists of [a bit of] everything, and I do as my coach at AllAbilityCoaching.com tells me to do. I do back-to-back long runs over the weekend, and during the week I do speedwork sessions, hill repeats and trail runs, which will give me some good elevation. I also do a lot of fast walking, because you will always do some walking during an ultra.
Are your targets based on distance, elevation, or time?
I prefer to run by time, but it is a mix between time and elevation. Elevation is super important because most of the races I do (like the Moab240) are very hilly.
You’ve put yourself through some gruelling challenges and races. What works for you when you’re going through a challenging point in a race?
I tend to break a race down. Normally I go from aid station to aid station. I tell myself that all I need to do is to get to the next aid station, and that is it. When I leave that aid station, I know that I only have to get to the next one. It is similar to what I currently do with the 100 marathons in 100 days. I only focus on now/today/short-term goals.
Once you’ve finished your incredible marathon challenge, do you have any running goals or plans for later this year?
My main goal this year is to complete The Moab 240 miler in October. I’m using this marathon challenge as a great base-building exercise for Moab.
What are your favourite items of kit for training and racing, and who are you sponsored by right now?
I love Ultimate Direction’s gear, and I’m sponsored by them. I also use a Garmin Enduro watch, which has an amazing battery life – something I need for my crazy races. I love my Hoka shoes, and I can’t finish a race without Tailwind Recovery (nutrition) and Squirrel Nut Butter, which is a must for preventing chafing.
You can follow Jacky’s marathon challenge via her social media: www.instagram.com/ncrunnerjacky.