Athlete: Jenna Challenor
The career of Durban-based marathon star Jenna Challenor hit an all-time high recently when she finished second in the women’s race at the tough Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, a remarkable result considering the 56km race was her debut ultra-marathon.
The mother of three finished with a time of 3:47:33, sandwiched between race winner Maryna Damantsevich from Belarus and fellow KwaZulu-Natal athlete Tanith Maxwell.
Challenor has become something of a marathon queen in South Africa with some great results over the years, however, to feature so prominently in her first ultra-marathon was a testament to how hard she has been working.
“For me, Wayne Holroyd and Dr Kevin Subban at Prime have been the sticky tape keeping this together,” she laughed.
“They have been so influential in me getting to where I am now that I am truly grateful for their input.”
Stepping into the unknown was always going to be a difficult task for the KPMG/Adidas athlete, but having guiding hands to prepare her for the event as well as a sound race plan were prominent features in her success.
“I had trained really hard for the race and I just made sure that I followed my race plan, and it worked!
“The plan was to be a bit more conservative and hold back. I had never run that distance before. I had to make sure that I ran to my body.
“Although it was further than I had ever run before, I felt amazing throughout the whole race. It is an incredible event,” the Durban North athlete added.
Challenor has been at the forefront of marathon running in the country and the progression to ultra-marathon’s was always on the cards for her, it was just a case of working out the right time to make the step up.
“I joined the EADP (Elite Athlete Development Programme) in the last intake and they have helped me so much recently, and it felt like the right time for me to get into ultra-marathons.
“I have had three kids who have taken up so much of my time, but now having more professional assistance meant that I was ready for the challenge,” she added.
Her outstanding result at the Two Oceans hasn’t prompted a change in career path as the 36 year-old shifts her focus back to her more comfortable shorter distances.
“I have decided that I want to continue with the Spar Grand Prix series which are 10km races throughout the country.
“I definitely haven’t given up on marathons and I will keep looking for races to compete in.
“There are races all over the world and I really believe that I can beat my personal best for the marathon,” a confident Challenor said.