Interview with Jenna Challenor

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We speak to Jenna Challenor

RRD: First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak to us!

For readers who are not familiar with you, please introduce yourself.

Jenna Challenor: My name is Jenna Challenor. Running is my passion, sport and my sanity. I competed as a semi-professional athlete for 7 years, between having 3 children, running my photography business and raising three young daughters. After the birth of my third daughter in June 2012 (“babies done, now to run”), I focused on improving my running to achieve certain goals important to me as an athlete. One of these was to represent my country and I took up running full-time.


RRD: How do you balance your family life with training?

Jenna Challenor: As an athlete I aim to inspire people to be grateful for their health and mobility and to get out there and enjoy what sport has to offer. Being a mother who still competes and runs I aim to inspirer mothers to continue sport after having their children, to make time for themselves, their sport and to not feel guilty about it. If I can do it so can they. It just takes some motivation, planning and commitment.

What drives me to race and run and “ juggle the struggle” as Mags on East coast radio put it? Well that is most definitely my children, I run for my 3 daughters, to show them the incredible life and opportunities sport has to offer. I always tell them that sport is incredible, it takes you places and makes you friends. I have been to so many places through my sport and met so many different people along the way. Ive traveled parts of the world I’d never have chosen to go to but have had the most unforgettable experiences I’ll cherish forever. I want an active life style to be the norm for them. I want them to be part of my journey, they get to see my up’s and my down’s, they see that it doesn’t just come easy. It takes determination, commitment and consistency. They see how I’ve been knocked down and fought to get back up again and never given up and they experience the victories with me too. I hope they take this all with them into everything they do in their lives and it drives them.

RRD: Running at an elite level requires a team, who supports your running?

Jenna Challenor: Running as an elite level is like a puzzle, it takes years to “put the puzzle pieces together” and i feel i have finally done that, i have laid the foundation and can build on it to achieve my goals. I have the most incredible team behind me who believe in me and make me believe i can achieve anything i put my mind to. My puzzle pieces, my team: my number one fan, my husband, Brett Challenor; my physio, Wayne Holroyd, Dr Kevin Subban;  Bio, Jaryd Rudolph, Prime, the world class high performance centre where I train, my Coach, Ernie Gruhn and my incredible sponsors who make dreams a possibility. KPMG, my running club who I have been part of for 2 years now have a huge place in my heart, I run with such pride when I put on my blue KPMG kit. This clubs main focus is on us, the athletes and they go above and beyond for all of us and treat us all like super stars. My incredible three stripes family, adidas, I am absolutely crazy about adidas and love everything about the brand. I am so blessed to run in the worlds best shoes and apparel. With my crazy busy life as an athlete and mother i literally survive on my 32Gi products, they are incredible, they keep my blood sugar constant, enable me to recover and get me from one session to the next. Mark Wolff is a man of many talents, one being nutrition and he keeps me in check and is always there for me. Running is certainly made easy with my TomTom GPS watch and my Sziols performance shades which put me in the “zone” both in races and in training sessions.


RRD: Where did your running passion start?

Jenna Challenor: I am a Durban girl through and through. I was born here, grew up here and went to school at Durban Girls College. At school I was more of a sporting all-rounder, I did everything and loved it all. I ran and I did get my KZN colours for both track and Cross country but i never had a coach and never focused only on running.My parents never pushed me, I was able to do anything I wanted and they supported me. I played provincial hockey, swam and represented Durban Surf at World Life saving champs in New Zealand at the age of 16, where i met my husband, we competed in the same team. Running has always been a passion of mine and although my mom was only a social runner, seconding her in Comrades Marathon had a role in my inspiration to run and to do the ultimate human race one day.

RRD: Training is important to every athlete, how do you fit in your training?

Jenna Challenor: My training is amazing, i absolutely love to train. Its tough, there are days when I’m so tired I’m on auto pilot but the tough is what makes it great. I train three times a day,I usually do two run sessions and a cross training session every day. I start my day at 4.15am with my first run session so that i get this done before my kids are awake, i then get home by 6.15am to the crazy school morning rush, getting the kids ready for school and then i take them to school. Between 8-10am I do my next session with a sneaky coffee in-between. After that i have physio if needed or any maintenance i may need to keep my body injury free. At 12.30 I start my lifts, I fetch my 4 year old from school, take her to swimming, ball skills or ballet, then at 2pm i fetch my older two and between 3-6pm I take them to their sports, fit my 3rd session somewhere between all of this before rushing back to fetch them form their sport be it running, swimming, nippers, hockey… you name it they do it and then we start ZOO evening . I call it zoo evening because when they were little it used to be zoo, as in “crazy”.. HOUR but now they older they go to sleep so much later so its zoo EVENING and by 8.30pm i collapse in a heap into bed. My days are so full but i can’t imagine anything else, life is busy but amazing. I’m very blessed with my family and all that we have.


RRD: Your husband Brett has a history in sports too, does he still compete?

Jenna Challenor: My husband doesn’t compete at an elite level anymore but he did used to for many years so because of this he knows what it takes and is fully supportive of my journey. Brett used to be very competitive in the Life saving and Ocean warrior world and represented SA for many yrs for surf life saving, swimming and was also very competitive in the dusi canoe marathon. Brett has done 18 dusi’s and 4 Comrades so quiet the sportsman himself. Now he just does it all socially when he can in between seconding me and helping with our daughters and their sport. I coach the girls most of their running and Brett does their swimming before SA champs. Brett spends a lot of time on his bike riding with me now on my runs and especially my long runs which is an incredible help to me, not only for juice and water but because running alone is not always safe. We actually really enjoy it too, its our time together where we chat and catch up with no distractions and as he says “he can actually keep up on the bike” . Sometimes when I’m pushing 3.35/km at the end of a 38km run and he is chirping to pick up the pace whilst pop a wheeling next to me i do get bit grumpy . Brett is my number one fan, he dedicates so much to me and our girls, we are so blessed. I wouldn’t be able to run at this level with out his support in they journey.

RRD: What is the highlight of your running career so far?

Jenna Challenor:The highlight of my career so far would definitely be my TWO OCEANS ULTRA debut in April this year. It has been a very rough last year of injury, surgery and coming back from injury. There has been many ups and downs, I’ve been knocked down and had to get back up numerous times but i never gave up. It was hard but it was worth it. Not many people know this but i was injured 6 weeks before Two Oceans and couldn’t run for 4 solid weeks so i had absolutely no idea what to expect. I committed to the race 3 weeks before and decided i would go and experience it and if i sneaked into 10th somehow id be over the moon. I have ALWAYS wanted to run this beautiful race and to have run and absolutely LOVED every second of it like i did was a dream come true. The podium position was a lovely cherry on the top of course but i found my LOVE of RUNNING, it set me free again and made it all worth it. I am so excited to see what lies ahead.


RRD: You were hoping to make the 2016 Olympics, are you training for 2020?

Jenna Challenor: Olympics is always in an athletes vision but it does also depend which path i take so on that note, time will tell. Olympics is a huge dream of mine but i also have other big dreams so for now i am riding the wave and LOVING being able to run and race again in my KPMG kit.

RRD: We discovered you hold the Park Run record with a time of 16:35, where did you run?

Jenna Challenor: Yes i have the park run record, North beach park run. I need to go back and challenge that time of mine as i haven’t run it in quiet awhile. Park runs are awesome, such a lovely morning out and i love seeing so many people on the road rearing to go. I don’t get to do them often as i am usually running a long run on a Saturday and by 8am i am finished my 33-38km run and am already lifting my kids to sport but i definitely want to try get some more park runs in future.

RRD: Where can we follow your progress ?

Jenna Challenor: I have my own website and people can follow me on the following social media platforms

Facebook: Jenna Challenor Athlete

twitter: Jennachallie1

Instagram: Jennachallie1


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