Ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell will take on the entire length of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (162km) in a solo run. Photo: Supplied.
Ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell will take on the entire length of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (162km) in a solo run. Photo: Supplied.

Global marathon runner to tackle 20-hour solo race

ULTRA-MARATHON runner Jacqui Bell will embark on her scariest mission yet: running the entire length of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail in one go, a fair portion of it through the night – alone.

The former Ipswich Girls Grammar School woman is no stranger to tackling epic running challenges, some more than 250km, but this will be her first solo mission.

“Usually there’s other competitors, but the only other person who will be out there is the girl who’s videoing the run,” Jacqui said.

“I’ll only see her for a couple minutes in passing at each of the towns.”

After international racing events were cancelled by coronavirus this year, Jacqui said she had been struggling to stay motivated to train.

Ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell after completing the Last Desert Race in Antarctica. Photo: Supplied
Ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell after completing the Last Desert Race in Antarctica. Photo: Supplied

“When I saw the rail trail it planted a seed in my head to have a go at something local to me,” she said.

Jacqui will start her run at 3pm on August 12, and aims to complete the run on Thursday, August 14 at noon.

She estimates her average running pace will be about 7.2km/h.

“Usually in a race you have people at checkpoints and have people pacing you, but I wont have any of that,” Jacqui sad.

“If I can do it in under 15 hours I’ll be stoked. Ideally, my goal is under 20 hours, but I’m aware things may go wrong over 160km.”

Her stops will be limited to drink bottle refills and toilet stops, but Jacqui said she was no stranger to “roughing it”.

And to keep her occupied along the solo mission is her Spotify playlist, Jacqui’s Jaybird Jams, which features more than 11 hours of music.

At 25 years of age, Jacqui is the youngest female runner in the world to complete the 4 Desert Grand Slam runs.

She ran 250km self-supported across the Namibian Desert, Gobi Desert, Atacama Desert and the blizzards of Antarctica.

Ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell.
Ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell.

Her dedication to running followed a number of health issues that were affecting her physical and mental health.

She set her sights on a goal of running 250km across the Simpson Desert, the Big Red Run, after eight months of working on her fitness.

Jacqui is now a mental health ambassador and keynote speaker and also trains six days a week.

She has a coach, who is based in Sydney, who keeps her on track.

“I can be quite difficult to coach because I go a bit rogue off my program,” Jacqui said.

“Two months ago, I decided I was going to play AFL again, and the risk of injury is a bit scary.”

Jacqui runs 80 to 100km a week, as well as doing swim, gym and bike sessions and yoga.

Photographer Dale Travers captured this image of ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell. Photo: Supplied
Photographer Dale Travers captured this image of ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell. Photo: Supplied

She has an “active recovery” day, usually on a Sunday each week, which normally involves a relaxing walk.

Luckily, she’s sponsored by Brooks, so churning through shoes isn’t an issue.

“You’re only meant to wear one pair for 500km of running,” she said.

Jacqui’s run along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail will be supported by Jaybird, Adrenaline Australia, Somerset Regional Council, Brooks, and Red Bull.

At their recent meeting, Somerset Regional Council agreed to support Jacqui’s run by making a $1000 donation.

Councillor Bob Whalley was impressed with her efforts.

“It’s great exposure for the trail, it’s wonderful to see a young person do this in our area,” he said.


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