Empowering women – Jacqui Bell

At only 25 years old Jacqui is the youngest person in the world that have run an ultra-marathon on all 7 continents.

We met her one year ago and start working together, she is incredibly inspiring, and we believe that her story is meant to be shared!

How and why did you start running?

As far back as I can remember I have always enjoyed running around not only for fitness but for fun. In school I really enjoyed the camaraderie of going to cross country training with friends mainly just to chit chat. Then as I got older I ran when I travelled as an easy way to see places and to stay fit by being outdoors, all I needed was to put on my runners and step outside. So I guess for me you could say it has always been somewhat apart of my life.

I have also worked as a fitness trainer for over 6 years now and I would get my personal training clients to choose a goal like a 5km run or half marathon to set themselves a performance goal rather than an aesthetic goal. I would then train with them for their event. I began racing in some longer events myself, I remember doing a 50km road race when I was just 20 and I loved it, the endorphins post-race were unbeatable.

Unfortunately, when I was 21 I had pretty bad run with my health and broke a number of bones, had my tonsils removed and a few other health issues which left me spiraling in a pretty bad direction.

It wasn’t until I guess I was pretty much at rock bottom when I turned to running against as a kind of last attempt to get myself back on track. I knew If I didn’t make a serious change, then I was just going to continue that downward spiral.

Why did you keep running?

3 years ago at 22 was when I knew I needed to make a big change in my life. That is when I decided running was going to be my answer to pull myself out from where I was at.

It began after I watched a YouTube video of Andrew Papadopolous completing a multi-stage race across the Simpson Desert in Australia. I didn’t know Andrew Pap at the time but seeing him run 250km’s across Australia's hottest desert sparked something in me.

This is when I decided to do my first desert race as a big goal to work towards and I had 8 months to prepare, train and save up. However, when I started researching all things ultra-marathons, I realized this sport was bigger than what I had imagined. I decided to take on racing the planets x4 desert ultra-marathons which are considered some of the hardest endurance races on the planet. The hardest part was telling my parents at just 22 that I was going to be running 250km’s across the hottest, windiest, driest and coldest deserts in the world haha yep that was my first major obstacle! This was all around August 2017… I guess I haven’t looked back since.

What does sport bring you in your everyday life?

Sport allows me to work on the physical pillar of my health which then puts me in a place to work on the other pillars - my emotional health, mental health and social wellbeing. Getting the body moving sets me up to tackle each and every day and whatever it throws at me. In the ultra-race emotions are heightened and decision making is under the pump, the situations you find yourself in make you see your true self.

What does it mean to be a woman in your sport?

I love ultra-running and I do it because it makes me the best version of myself. I hope that by chasing my goals in both my sport and outside of it that it inspires the younger generations of girls to go after things that may be slightly against the norm and to set themselves some big audacious goals to tackle. I love seeing more and more women in ultra-running as when I first began the percentage of female vs. male athletes was a big difference. After just a few years the gap is beginning to close. Men at the events I have been at always seem to have the utmost respect for the badass women who are tackling the race as well.

Why RaidLight?

Raidlight gear is constantly being improved to make it the best out there. It is super lightweight which is what is needed when running on the trails or longer distances. I have been using it for over 3 years from the packs to the tops and even the socks are unreal.

What’s your fav product?

My ultra-lightweight windproof/rain jacket, it is ridiculously lightweight and is perfect for the multi stage ultras when I have to carry everything on my back. Also my 24L raidlight pack - it holds everything I need for an entire week on my back while I run which is pretty unbelievable

What are you the most proud of in your life?

I am not sure if there is an exact moment as I try to really enjoy the process of whatever the goal is that I am trying to achieve. I think I am really glad my parents raised me to be a strong female and to believe that whatever I work hard at I can achieve. I don’t let others fears become mine and make me wavier and I am proud of this.

Do you have any women that have inspired you to achieve your dreams?

My good friend Jaimie really inspires me, she isn’t a professional athlete or runner but her work ethic, drive and passion for whatever it is she is doing really resonates with me. It doesn’t matter exactly what she is doing but she will do it at 100% of her ability and make sure she gets the job done really well. Jaimie doesn’t get intimidated by demographic of those she is working with - it doesn’t matter if they have double her experience, are older or more powerful she will still put her best foot forward with the task at hand. I try to remember this when racing - it doesn’t matter who I am competing against, if I race at my absolute best and give it my all then that is all I can expect of myself and if it gets me the win then that is great, if it doesn’t then someone else has raced better than me on that particular day.

What was you’re the hardest challenge you had to face in your life?

For me it was facing myself head on as I think we personally are our own biggest obstacle in life. It was taking that time a few years ago to reflect and be like you know what I am in a terrible place and something needs to change. I needed to be realistic with myself, look long and hard in the mirror and face why I am so unhappy.

Now I like to still check in with myself from time to time on where I am at as it is very easy to get caught up in the fast paced world we live in these days and when I start to sweep issues under the rug and avoid them that is when cracks in my racing and everyday life begin to appear.

They speak about her: