Jaqui Clark Client Focus from Sue, one of our awesome trainers 🙂
Jaqui Clark is our inspiring client for this month. I met Jaqui last April 2014 while we were both running a 50kms ultra marathon in Bunbury. It was my first ultra, but she was on a mission towards a goal of running Northface 100 in May 2015. Thanks to facebook we kept in touch after Bunbury, and her next immediate goal was Kep Ultra, which was another 75kms on trail.
When I started at Willpower and had my launch Jaqui came along and signed up with me as her personal trainer to help her towards her goal of completing Northface 100. Her main goal was sports conditioning, followed by strength training. Northface is a tough 100kms trail run in tough terrain in the Blue Mountains, and involves climbing steps, ladders, trail, and of course the epic climbs and descents of mountains.
Our training has involved a lot of lower body work with tyre flips, box jumps, weighted squats etc, for all the climbing. There is also a lot of ladder climbing and ropes on the course, so our upper body work has been medicine ball slams/cleans, along with ropes and other strength training.
Jaqui has also done a lot of her own training at Jacobs Ladder in the city, trail runs, and regularly runs to work, a distance of just under 20kms. Her commitment to training is 100%, and she should be proud of how dedicated she is.
I have been lucky enough to do a couple of the same runs as Jaqui, and it has been a privilege to train her towards her exceptional goals.
Her debrief of Northface100 makes incredible reading, and I am very proud to be have been part of her journey towards an amazing achievement. Her debrief is attached so that you may read it too.
Her journey continues as she has now entered a 24 hour track event in August, and another milestone race in September. I look forward to being part of her amazing running journey.
Jaqui’s Recap on her amazing race 🙂
On May the 16th 2015 I lined up as one of 1000 runners crazy enough to tackle 100kms through the Blue Mountains. It was about 2 degrees at the start line although there was no way I could feel the cold with 18months of pent up excitement running through my body! As I crossed the start line to screams of encouragement I recalled the exact moment when my other half, Jarrad was sitting on the couch 18months earlier and I told him I wanted to run 100kms through the Blue Mountains in 2015. Having only completed 2 marathons he told me I was mad but was happy to support me for the journey. Little did he know how much this was going to involve…
11 more marathons (including 1x 47km, 5x 50km, 1x 75km ultras) and this was just to get me to starting line. Many mornings of 4am wake-ups, missing dinner on many occasions thanks to training, complaining of sore legs and skipping functions because I had a run planned all led me to this starting line. With 4 friends (plus Jarrad) travelling from Perth to be there, and 2 friends from the UK I was definitely in good hands with my crew!
I still struggle to find the words to describe the run – ‘epic’, ‘adventure’ ‘awesome’ are a few but they still don’t quite explain just how amazing this run was. I had decided to raise money for the Australian Submarine Assoc, and also Black Dog (raising money and awareness for Men’s depression) which was in memory of Dad, an Australian submariner who passed away in 2012. Dad was my guiding star on every run and I wanted to make my first 100kms a run for him.
I started the run really well, especially as the start line was playing John Farnham music – excitement had the legs moving quickly and I had to hold myself back to make sure I didn’t go out too hard too fast. I headed down the dreaded ‘Furber Steps’ – 900 steps that has already been dubbed by another runner as ‘Satan’s staircase’. I met a few locals, one of which was planning to propose to his girlfriend at the finish line and I felt comfortable coming into checkpoint 1 at 10.5kms. From there it was a long stretch to checkpoint 2 (31kms) including the amazing Tarros Ladders – literally ladders down the side of a cliff face! This section was awesome – at one stage I climbed up and up and up and when I got to the top I stood and just said ‘wow’ – I have never experienced a feeling like that before!
Checkpoint 3 was the first checkpoint that my crew could be at so I ran well from 2-3 knowing that I would soon see them. Apart from a slight roll of my right ankle, I smashed it up hills even overtaking blokes wearing Spartan shirts – a good feeling! I also got to watch a helicopter rescue right next to me which spurred me on – but also scared the crap out of me! (I believe that it was a broken femur for one poor bloke!) I also climbed Ironpot Mountain, at one stage I was sure that I should be kitted up with rock climbing gear! It was worth it at the top when we were greeted with a didgeridoo being played – the eeriness and beauty of this was so amazing. I came into CP3 (46km) feeling a little woozy but very happy to see my team. The team consisted of Jarrad (Team Leader and Pep talk organiser), Dan (coach/nurse and everything else!), Kathy (masseuse), Bron and Matt (officially the fundraising organisers but also battery changers, water bottle fillers, food providers and support givers!), John and Karen (photography, more food givers, support givers and water bottle fillers!) It was the first time they had all worked together and they were good! I had my legs massaged, I was fed and pack changed with fresh food and drink and I was off again – like a well oiled F1 car in the pit lane.
CP3 to 4 was a short run – only 11kms. This was the hardest 11kms I had ever done, but the most beautiful. I was climbing stairs for about 10kms and as I reached the top of the hill before heading into the aid station the sun was starting to drop down behind the mountains which was breathtaking. I felt good coming into CP4 (57kms) and hungry which was a great sign that the stomach was still working – I was smothered in love and warm blankets and forced to eat bread and beef noodles and drink hot coffee. After a quick massage and shirt change as well as the head torch being plonked on my head I was ready to go again.
I had a long stretch of 21kms to go on what I thought was a nicer section of the course – a few kms in I came past Echo Point, where my crew were surprising me with a unplanned pit stop (although they were not allowed to aid me here). I came around the corner to see my crew all in matching jumpers, all looking at their phones trying to work out where I was. I ended up surprising them with a ‘Hi strangers’ and ran past whilst they all tried to recover from the shock!
I recall feeling good at this point – I even told the coach that I was feeling awesome. This didn’t last long – I hit the dreaded steps. This section was all up and down stairs and it was dark, muddy and very dangerous. I re-rolled my right ankle numerous times and some nasty blisters started to form. I was starting to hurt and runners around me were all dropping out every chance they got. There was long stretches of being alone in the dark running along the cliff tops, sometimes having to duck under cliffs, sometimes crossing waterfalls and sometimes splashing in mud. If I looked down into the valley I could see head torches bobbing along in the dark heading to the finish. At about the 70km mark I wanted to break down and cry. I was tired, cold and just wanted to stop. I pulled out my phone to call Jarrad and cry but when I looked at my phone I knew he would just tell me to keep going so thats what I had to do. About 3kms out of CP5 (78km) I hit road and I knew that the check point was just around the corner – it was the longest 3km of my life! I hobbled into CP5 very sore and desperate for a pep talk – I was greeted with “Well done, this is your longest run yet – just another 22kms to go”.
The crew were there to offer everything I needed. I was plonked into a chair by the fire, wrapped in a warm blanket with a hot water bottle and John started to massage my shoulders whilst Dan and Kathy focussed on my feet. I told them to do whatever it took – “just get me to the finish”. I started to regret this line when I saw Dan had a pocket knife up against my toe! I was fed cold pizza which I struggled to get down and sipped on Coke to get some caffeine into me whilst my amazing crew re-filled my pack, rubbed my legs, taped my ankle and talked me into never giving up. When they were sure I was ready they held up my pack ready for me to move – “Do I have to?” I said “I don’t wanna”. There was no argument, they kicked my butt out there! I was stiff and cold leaving CP5 but I recall Jarrad trying to hug me – I pulled away, sure that if he hugged me I would never leave his arms. Dan walked me to the timing chip which meant I was officially leaving the checkpoint and as I ran (shuffled) off into the dark I heard him yell “You go Girl” – such an inspiring few words that actually pushed me on for hours.
22kms to the finish – The toughest 22kms yet – It was black, very black – it was cold, very cold and it was scary. I was descending to the valley floor with nothing but my head light to guide me. At the bottom I had to cross a river, and then from the valley floor climb to 1000m to get to the finish. It was now Sunday morning and I kept reminding myself that this was fun, that this was what I had trained for, that so many people believed in me, that Dad was guiding me and that overall I could do anything if I believed in myself. With Dad whispering in my ear I kept trudging on – running where I could and otherwise shuffling along.
When I hit the base of the dreaded Furber Steps, I knew that I was almost home – 900 steps and a few hundred metres to the finish. I sucked up everything I had left and smashed those stairs and ran the last few hundred metres. When I came around the corner and saw my crew I knew I was crying, however I was too dehydrated to have actual tears. Crossing that line was like nothing I have ever experienced. Every emotion was coursing through the body. I turned around to Jarrad behind me for the biggest bear hug ever before my legs gave way and I had to sit down. Once sitting down my crew put a cider in my hand and all gathered around for hugs!
In 22hours I had done 100km in some of the toughest terrain in the world – Approx 400 runners don’t make it – The last runner didn’t get in until over 28hours from the start – I had achieved something that most people wouldn’t even consider, let alone attempt. How did I feel? Tired! But so awesome!
I had 7 crew members on the day – 7 amazing people who inspire me every day and there is no way I would have completed this without them. They are amazing people and their strength and their love helped me finish. I also had hundreds of other people who got me to the start line – People who trained me, people who crewed for me, people who raised money with me – donated either prizes or their time. People who supported me, just because…. Everyone of those guys got me over the line. When it got tough I imagined telling everyone who had supported me how grateful I was for their help and how they pushed me through. I couldn’t have achieved anything without such an amazing group of people in my life.
I have recovered well – My crew ensured there was plenty of sleep, booze and food for a few days to celebrate such a run and whilst the body continues to heal and continues to need lots of sleep I feel that 3 days after I am ready to run again – just maybe not 100kms…yet. The donations are still pouring in but its looks like both the Australian Sub Assoc and Black Dog will each be $1000 better off.
Thankyou for your generous support and I look forward to celebrating with you and sharing more race stories! Please feel free to pass on my story to anyone I have missed!