Woman with One Leg Seeks to Run 102 Marathons in 102 Days

    23 April 2022

    A woman who lost one leg to cancer is seeking to break a world record by completing 102 marathon-length runs in 102 days. A marathon is a race that goes 42 kilometers.

    Jacky Hunt-Broersma, who lives in the western American state of Arizona, set her goal in mid-January. And every day since then, she has been running the distance of a marathon.

    Most of the time, she runs on roads and trails near her home in Gilbert, Arizona. Sometimes she completes her runs on a running machine called a treadmill. Hunt-Broersma averages just over five hours to complete the runs.

    In this image provided by Edwin Broersma, marathoner Jacky Hunt-Broersma trains on Aug. 28, 2021 at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, in San Tan Valley, Az. (Edwin Broersma via AP)
    In this image provided by Edwin Broersma, marathoner Jacky Hunt-Broersma trains on Aug. 28, 2021 at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, in San Tan Valley, Az. (Edwin Broersma via AP)

    If she keeps successfully completing marathon-length runs every day, she will reach her goal by April 28. She would then hold the world record for completing 102 back-to-back marathon runs.

    The current world record of 101 marathons was set April 10 by British runner Kate Jayden. The 35-year-old Jayden does not have a disability.

    Hunt-Broersma, a native of South Africa, lost the bottom half of her left leg to a rare form of cancer in 2001. "The biggest struggle was accepting that part of my body was gone," she told The Associated Press.

    Hunt-Broersma said that until five years ago, she was not very active. But then she looked into running and decided to give it a try. The sport ended up being quite costly. Currently, she runs on a prosthetic leg made out of a strong, light material known as carbon fiber. The carbon fiber blade she uses, which is designed specifically for running, costs about $10,000.

    But Hunt-Broersma says her investment has been well worth it. "Running really changed my life," she said. "It helped me accept myself as an amputee. It gave me a sense of freedom. I fell in love with the process of pushing my body further just to see what I could do."

    However, she has faced both physical and mental difficulties during her record-breaking attempt. On one recent day, Hunt-Broersma said she felt near collapse at 24 kilometers and began to cry. In that moment, she felt like her planned goal might not happen at all.

    "I had a total emotional breakdown. I was like, ‘I just can't do this. What was I thinking?'" she said. "The trick for me is just to break it down into little goals, she added.

    One of her recent runs was the world-famous Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts. She finished that race, held April 18, with a time of 5 hours, 5 minutes.

    Hunt-Broersma's main support team is her husband and their two young children. She is documenting her progress online and has also gained a large social media following.

    As she nears the end of her goal, Hunt-Broersma is hoping to inspire a single thought in others, regardless of their own physical limitations. She tells people, "You're stronger than you think — and you're capable of so much more."

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.

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    Words in This Story

    trail – n. a path through the countryside, often where people walk

    prosthetic – n. an artificial body part, such as an arm, leg, or foot, that replaces a missing part

    blade – n. a flat, sharp piece of metal that can be used as a tool or weapon

    amputee – n. a person who has had an arm or leg cut off

    inspire – v. to make someone want to do something

    capable – adj. able to do something