Run Local Spotlight: Jacky Hunt-Broersma
Meet Jacky Hunt-Broersma, local ultra-runner, amputee, cancer survivor, and super-mom!
Jacky is an all-round super-star with recent features in Ultra Running Magazine, Women’s Running Magazine , and the Chicago Sun Times (among many other blog and magazine features!), in addition to being a regular customer and race participant at Bull City Running. We were excited to get to know her better and share her story with you! Read on to learn more about how this cool and inspirational lady came to love running and how it fits into her busy life!
Jacky’s Running Origin Story:
In her pre-amputee life, Jacky didn’t care much for running. Although it was a passion of her husband, who raced regularly, it felt awkward and cumbersome to her and she just couldn’t quite buy into the hype. But in 2001, a cancer diagnosis that ultimately resulted in the amputation of her left leg (within one week of her biopsy results!) shifted her perspective regarding the sport and life in general.
Jacky found intrigue and motivation in the challenge of running with a prosthetic, and by December 2016, she was standing on the start line of her very first race, the Durham 13.1. Jacky had originally planned to sign up for the 5K, then upgraded herself to the 10K, but on race day she showed up and tackled the half marathon on a whim! Since then she has increased her longest distance to date in virtually every race she has done, and the trend continues!
Jacky’s current running love is long distance trail running, and she is proud to self-identify as an ultra-runner, having completed the Triple Lakes 40 Miler in October 2018 and the Umstead 50 Miler in April 2019 with no signs of stopping. Here are some things of the things we chatted about over coffee at Bean Traders recently.
Ellen/BCRC: What running goals are you working toward and feeling excited about these days?
Jacky: I’m currently preparing for an event called the Trans-Rockies Run. It’s a 3-day event, August 13th through 15th that covers 60 miles total from Buena Vista to Camp Hale, CO. We’ll cover anywhere from 15-25 miles per day. Beyond that, I am considering the 40 miler at Triple Lakes again this October, plus a 50K at Lake Norman, NC in November. All these events are stepping stones towards my ultimate running goal for 2020, which is the Umstead 100 in April!
Ellen/BCRC: Wow! That’s quite the race calendar you’ve got there! Tell us a little more about what your training routine looks like and how it fits into your day-to-day life of mom-ing and internet stardom.
Jacky: With two young kids (ages 6 and 9) and a husband who is also a runner, it is a bit of a balancing act! On Saturdays, my husband and I have a tag team long run/child care system in place, and I also log some early morning weekday miles before the kids are awake. I typically do 5 runs per week, and I’m currently trying to make sure that at least 3 of those are on consecutive days to simulate the tired legs I am sure to encounter in my upcoming stage race! My current average run is around 2 to 3 hours in duration and I’m trying to run at Umstead as frequently as possible to learn the ins and outs of the course for the 100. My husband is my coach, and he is working on adding speework-type intervals to some of my runs to build strength and endurance.
Ellen/ BCRC: So, Jacky, I must ask, which is more challenging, running with a prosthetic limb or having your husband for a coach?
Jacky: Surprisingly enough, having my husband as a coach works very well for both of us! We have similar running interests and training goals, and we both value and enjoy the time we spend together training and racing. As for running with a prosthetic limb, that certainly comes with a unique series of challenges, especially when it comes to trail running. The biggest obstacle for me has been finding a blade that provides the traction I needed for muddy, slippery trails. There is not currently a blade on the market that is specific to trail running. After an exceptionally muddy, slippery, and painful experience in my first ultra, my prosthetist worked with me to create a custom trail blade with the tread of a deconstructed trail running shoe and a split toe design for better mobility over varied terrain. These modifications, along with continued work with my PT on balance exercises to offset for the strength differences between my “good leg” and the blade have changed the game for me out on the trails!
Ellen/ BCRC: Nice! You’ve met the challenges of spousal coaching AND off road running on a prosthetic head-on, and you seem to be thriving in all aspects of your training! Hearing about how you conquer your unique training challenges with such tenacity and positivity is very inspiring. What is your proudest running accomplishment to date?
Jacky: That would be the Umstead 50 Miler, which I completed in April. It’s the longest distance I’ve done thus far, and just couldn’t believe how much fun it was! I loved the warm community support that came from the multi-lap format, and the fact that it is local race so I knew many of the spectators and other runners. The cheering fans that marked the start and finish of each lap were just the best, and I left feeling inspired to seek out more local events to connect more with the Durham running community!
Ellen/ BCRC: We agree that our local running community is pretty dang special, and it’s great to hear that their support and energy was a big part of your best running experience yet! Let’s talk a little more about your running inspiration and motivation. What is the best piece of running advice you’ve ever received, and the most valuable thing you’ve learned about yourself through running?
Jacky: I think the most valuable advice I have gleaned over the course of my running career (from my husband and many friends I encountered along the way) is to resist comparing myself to and feeling influenced by others in favor of staying focused on my own goals and appreciating wherever I am in my journey. This perspective and my experiences with ultra-distance events so far have taught me that perseverance pays off! As we all do, I have encountered my fair share of hardships and set-backs, and I think it’s important to look for the lessons in them. I believe that even when training and races don’t go exactly the way I planned they would, there is still value in experiencing them and they are still forward steps to toward reaching my goals.
Ellen/ BCRC: Amen, sister! That is exactly the sentiment I strive to remind myself of in the face of a bad workout or bombed goal race! I think you have a very wise and healthy perspective on training and racing. That, plus the way you just exude joy and enthusiasm when you talk about running will carry you to your 100-mile goal! Now, let conclude with something a little lighter and less profound. Can you tell our readers out there what running gear you absolutely cannot live without?
Jacky: That’s easy! Obviously, a good GPS watch and some hearty trail shoes are must haves in my book! For the former, I’m completely obsessed with my Garmin Forerunner 945. It has all kinds of fun bells, whistles, and training metrics AND the extra-long battery life I need to get me through hours on end of running! And for the latter, it’s got to be Altra shoes! Their zero drop is ideal for balancing out my right foot vs. my prosthesis, so I’m a super-fan for life! I use the Escalante for road running, the Superior for training days on the trail, and the Lone Peak for my ultras. Aside from that, I am nothing without my Tailwind Recovery Drink post-long run!
Ellen/ BCRC: Jacky, thank you so much for sharing your favorite gear and your running story with us. We’re so impressed and inspired by all that you have accomplished and the courage, joy, and positivity you have displayed along the way. We wish you all the best in your upcoming running adventures, and we look forward to following along!