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102 marathons in 102 days: Amputee’s unofficial world record

William J Kole and Ross D Franklin

GILBERT, ARIZONA (AP) – As Forrest Gump in the Oscar-winning 1994 film of the same name, lead actor Tom Hanks abruptly trots to a halt after more than three years of non-stop running and tells his followers: “I’m pretty tired – I think I’ll go home now.”

Jacky Hunt-Broersma can relate. Recently, the amputee athlete achieved her goal of running 102 marathons in as many days, setting an unofficial women’s world record.

Britain-based Guinness World Records did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. It can take up to a year for the organisation to ratify a world record.

Guinness lists the men’s record for consecutive daily marathons as 59, set in 2019 by Enzo Caporaso of Italy.

“I’m just happy that I made it – I can’t believe it,” she said. “The best thing was the incredible support I’ve received from people around the world who’ve reached out, telling me how this has inspired them to push themselves.”

Jacky Hunt-Broersma runs her 102nd marathon in 102 days, this one at Veterans Oasis Park on April 28, in Chandler, Arizona. PHOTO: AP

Hunt-Broersma, 46, began her quest on January 17, covering the classic 42.2-kilometre marathon distance on a loop course laid out near her home in Gilbert, Arizona, or on a treadmill indoors. Since then, it’s been “rinse and repeat” every day for the South Africa native, who lost her left leg below the knee to a rare cancer and runs on a carbon-fibre prosthesis.

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 non-disabled runner from Bennington, Vermont, who took it on as a pandemic coping strategy. But earlier last month, after non-disabled British runner Kate Jayden unofficially broke Clark’s record with 101 marathons in 101 days, Hunt-Broersma realised she’d need to run at least 102.

On foot, day in and day out, she’s covered 4,300 kilometres – the equivalent of running from her Phoenix suburb to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, or from New York City to Mexico City.

Along the way, Hunt-Broersma gained a huge social media following and raised nearly USD27,000 to help fellow amputee blade runners get the expensive prostheses they need.

Health insurance typically doesn’t cover the cost, which can exceed USD10,000.

Hunt-Broersma, who ran her 92nd at the Boston Marathon, hopes her quest will inspire people everywhere to push themselves to do hard things.

What’s next for the endurance athlete? A 386-kilometre ultra race to be staged over mountainous terrain in October in Moab, Utah.