Amputee Finds Strength in Running a Marathon a Day

Jacky Hunt-Broersma completes her quest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 15, 2022 4:06 PM CDT
Updated Apr 29, 2022 1:08 AM CDT
Amputee Athlete's Plan: 102 Marathons in 102 Days
Jacky Hunt-Broersma trains last August at San Tan Mountain Regional Park in San Tan Valley, Az.   (Edwin Broersma via AP)

Update: On Thursday, Jacky Hunt-Broersma achieved her goal of running 102 marathons in as many days, setting an unofficial women’s world record. And the amputee athlete can't stop/won't stop, saying she'll run two more for good measure and wrap up her challenge on Saturday with 104, the AP reports. It could take up to a year for Guinness World Records to ratify the record. Her original goal was to run 100 marathons in 100 days so she'd beat the record of 95 set in 2020 by Alyssa Amos Clark, a nondisabled runner from Bennington, Vermont. But earlier this month, after nondisabled British runner Kate Jayden unofficially broke Clark's record with 101 marathons in 101 days, Hunt-Broersma realized she'd need to run at least 102. Our original story from April 15 follows:

Jacky Hunt-Broersma runs like a woman possessed. And in a way, she is: The amputee athlete is trying to run at least 102 marathons in 102 days, sustained by her support team of her husband and their two young children, as well as a large social media following. Last month, a little more than two-thirds of the way to her goal of setting a world record for back-to-back marathons, the South Africa native posted something on her Twitter account that got people talking, the AP reports. "The first thing I did after my run today was take off my leg. Felt so good," she tweeted. "Marathon 69 done. 31 marathons to go."

That was last month, and she's still running—covering the classic 26.2-mile marathon distance day in, day out, rain or shine, occasionally on a treadmill but mostly on roads and trails near her home in Gilbert, Arizona. If her streak remains intact heading into the Boston Marathon on April 18, it'll be marathon No. 92. Unlike the 30,000 others running the storied course, Hunt-Broersma, 46, will have done a marathon the day before. Somehow, she'll have to rally body and soul to run another the day after. And another after that. And then eight more. All on a carbon-fiber blade that's been her left leg ever since she lost the real thing below the knee to a rare cancer. "You make peace with pain," she said.

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In 2001, Hunt-Broersma was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare cancer more typically seen in children. Within weeks, her leg was amputated below the knee. Until five years ago, she wasn't at all athletic. "Running really changed my life," she said. "It helped me accept myself as an amputee. It gave me a sense of freedom." This week, after she logged marathon No. 85, well-wishers offered virtual applause. "You just seem to eat marathons for breakfast," one person tweeted. "In such bleak times, thank you for serving as an inspiration," commented another. Hunt-Broersma hopes she inspires a singular thought in others, regardless of their own physical challenges: "You're stronger than you think—and you're capable of so much more." (One runner completed his first marathon after losing both feet.)

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