On January 17, Jacky Hunt-Broersma ran a marathon. Since then, she has completed 72 more en route to reaching her goal of running 100 marathons in 100 days, to break the Guinness World Record for running the most consecutive marathons. We caught up with the Arizona-based ultrarunner to find out how she’s managing such a daunting undertaking.
“I’m feeling quite good,” says Hunt-Broersma. “I’ve had some tough days, but overall it’s been going really well.”
Every day, she gets up in the morning, helps her kids get ready for school, then prepares to tackle her next marathon. The physical challenge of a goal like this is enormous (especially considering she is running on a prosthetic), but Hunt-Broersma says it’s the mental challenge that’s been the toughest part. “Just getting up and doing the same thing every day has been tough,” she says.
To change things up, Hunt-Broersma has done her marathons on the roads, trails and the treadmill. More than just a change of scenery, varying the surface has helped her physically, as well. After finding that the road was beating up on her body, she’s moved many of her runs to a dirt trail near her home that’s more forgiving, and alternated that with runs on the treadmill. “The treadmill works my muscles slightly differently than running outside, so it helps a bit with recovery,” she says.
Of course, running with a prosthetic leg comes with its own set of challenges that a runner with two legs would not have to deal with. The volume of running Hunt-Broersma is doing every day frequently causes swelling behind her knee near the bottom of her stump, which pushes the bone out of position. A daily part of recovery for her is icing her stump and massaging it to bring down the swelling so the bone can move back to the correct spot. “I’ve had to stop mid-run a few times to massage my stump so I can get going again,” she says.
The highs and lows
Unsurprisingly, in a journey of this length and magnitude, there have been good days and bad days. “Sometimes, after I have a really difficult run, I wonder how I’m going to get through another one the next day,” says Hunt-Broersma. “But then the next day feels like I didn’t run at all the day before.”
There have also been some particularly difficult days, like on day 35, when she ran a half-marathon race in the morning, then came home and ran another 21.1K to complete her marathon distance for the day. A few people called her out on social media, arguing it didn’t count because she split it into two runs, so to be safe, she ran another full marathon that day. That made for a total of 84.4 kilometres in one day, after 34 consecutive marathons.
Day 72 was also particularly tough. “I had a bit of an emotional breakdown on my run yesterday,” she says. “I was questioning whether or not I could do this, so I cried a bit, then picked myself up and got the job done.”
When asked how she gets through her runs every day, Hunt-Broersma says she tries to focus on taking it one mile at a time. On the really tough days, she gives herself mid-run pep talks to remind herself of her capabilities and her goal (if you live in Arizona, don’t be alarmed if you see a woman running toward you talking to herself).
Finally, she says the support she’s received from her family and friends has been phenomenal, and her daughter has even joined her for a few miles here and there. “My kids are always coming home from school, asking me if I’ve run my marathon yet today,” she says. The support from the online community has also been overwhelming, and Hunt-Broersma has received several messages from fellow runners, who’ve said she’s inspired them to get out the door for their run, even when they didn’t feel like it.
Hunt-Broersma has 27 days left to go on her journey and can use all the support and well wishes she can get. She is also 65 per cent of the way to reaching her fundraising goal of $10,000 for the Amputee Blade Runners organization, which provides running blades for amputees. You can donate to the cause on her GoFundMe page, and follow her progress on Instagram.