GILBERT, Ariz. — Running around Veteran’s Oasis Park in Chandler, it’s easy to not realize just how far Jacky Hunt-Broersma is planning to go.
She’s a steady runner, moving forward with determination.
“It’s amazing what our bodies can achieve,” Hunt-Broersma said.
One lap into 26.2 miles, with a water bottle in hand and a hat on her head, Hunt-Broersma is fast to tell you she feels good.
“I’m running 100 marathons in 100 days,” Hunt-Broersma said, with a smile on her face.
This run in mid-February is her 31st marathon in a row. Every day, she’s getting out the door to run all 26.2 miles.
“The first week I thought, ‘What was I thinking doing this?’” Hunt-Broersma said laughing.
Hunt-Broersma said it started when she saw the current women’s record.
“I was like well, she did 95 [marathons], so if I can get to 96, it’ll be a record,” Hunt-Broersma said. “But I’m like, I need to round it off, so do 100!”
Hunt-Broersma said she’s used to running on dirt up in the San Tan Mountains. But many of the daily marathons have been near her home for convenience.
“It’s been an interesting experiment,” Hunt-Broersma said.
While she’s tackling these 100 marathons in 100 days, she just started the practice five and a half years ago.
“Running really changed my life,” Hunt-Broersma said.
That’s after life changed 20 years ago. “I lost my leg because of cancer, Ewing sarcoma.
Hunt-Broersma said she found a golf ball-sized lump on the bottom of her leg one day, and things moved quickly. She got it checked out, and was told it was cancer. Then, suddenly she’s sitting in a specialist’s office as he tells her they need to amputate her leg.
“I am like, ‘Whoa, wait. Let’s take it back. You just told me I’ve got cancer, now I need to lose my limb?’ And I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’” Hunt-Broersma said. “I think that for me was the more of the shock factor than the cancer part.”
Hunt-Broersma said it was only about a month from diagnosis to amputation. It was after, adjusting to not having her limb, that took longer.
“It’s tough. It’s hard because you look different and people stare and you go out, and it’s like, for me, especially being a woman, suddenly you feel ugly because you don’t have both your limbs,” Hunt-Broersma said. “It’s quite a tough thing to accept.”
She said she often watched her husband race and got interested in running.
“I’m like, well, there’s something there,” Hunt-Broersma said.
That something led to her getting her first running blade.
“I just had this sense of freedom, because I was suddenly doing something I couldn’t do,” Hunt-Broersma said. “It’s like for me, and it was just like, ‘Oh my goodness. I’m moving fast, like forward, like really fast!’ I wasn’t going fast at all, but I felt like I was flying.”
She's since run various races since she began running.
But, it’s that freedom she felt that she said she wants others to feel. So she’s raising money while she runs her 100 marathons for Amputee Blade Runners. It’s a non-profit providing running prosthetics to amputees.
“Running just made me realize how strong I can be and it gave me the confidence to just be who I am,” Hunt-Broersma said.
Hunt-Broersma said it’s not easy for people with prosthetics to try running, saying they can’t just go pick up a pair of $100 running shoes and try it out.
“My first running blade was like $10,000 they are not cheap they are really, really expensive,” Hunt-Broersma said.
Hunt-Broersma said besides the first week, the marathons have been fairly smooth. She’s averaging between 4.5 and 5.5 hours to finish the marathon each day, depending on how she feels.
“My goal is to be injury-free and get to the 100,” Hunt-Broersma said.
She’s hoping her story will inspire others to get outside their comfort zone and try something new.
“I’ve always believed that we’re capable of so much more if we just had the courage to just go for it,” Hunt-Broersma said.
You can help Hunt-Broersma raise money for Amputee Blade Runners as she runs by donating on her GoFundMe.
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