Interview with Ultra Runner: Jacqui Bell

Jacqui Bell, 25 years of age from Brisbane Australia. In 2020, Jacqui became the youngest person to run a multi-stage ultra on every continent in the world. Jacqui placed 1st in Iceland 250k, 2nd in the Grand Canyon 273k and 3rd in New Zealand 323km Alps 2 ocean event. 

So we sat down for, a socially distanced, interview to find out more about Jacqui and how she started her running career.

1. How did you start with ultra-running?

I ran my first 50k ultra at 20 as a personal challenge and from there I dabbled in some 100k hikes and road marathons. It wasn’t until I was 22 that I began competing in multi-day events – honestly, before 22 I didn’t know what a multi-day ultra wise. 

I chose x1 multi-event and when I began researching how to train for it, prepare and I guess you could say geeked out on it a little it was only then that o discovered this whole new world of extreme ultra races!

2. Why you prefer multi-stage racing over single-stage events?

I love being disconnected for the week and immersed in the race. The whole concept of camping and meeting awesome people, it is something else! You have the time to really think about what you learn each day and it is the fasted way to get to know yourself as you are pushed to your absolute limits. The simplicity of life in the multi-day events is like no other experience as well – the minimalistic lifestyle is great! 

3. What are your five most important equipment items to take to a multi-stage race?

  • Gaitors if there is soft sand!
  • Vaseline / some type of goo for blisters/ chafing!
  • A needle to pop blisters
  • Powerbank to charge my phone for music!
  • Inflatable sea to Summit Sleeping Mat!
  • A needle to pop blisters

4. What is your best advice for recovery between race days?

A small trigger ball, stretch and take Voltaren cream and massage your legs/ calves/ hips – also my neck/traps get sore from The heavy pack!  

5. What’s your favourite running terrain and how do you prepare for different terrains?

I love the heat – being from Australia – QLD (the sunny state) I think makes a difference. I try to replicate the race as best I can by running trails, soft sand, hills and also incorporating gym work to stay strong!

6. What are your thoughts on using running poles?

In my first multi-stage race I didn’t use them – REGRETS! The soft sand was brutal. I now love whipping out my piles during multi-stage ultras as they save my legs/ Achilles especially on the massive hills and soft sand. 

I am not sure I will continue to use them in the multi-events though – depending on the terrain. 

7. What is the ultra-running community like in Australia? Can you recommend any local races?

I have noticed the ultra running community grow exponentially over the last 2/3 years. I honestly think this directly correlates with people becoming very proactive with their own mental health and trying to better themselves by moving their bodies, surrounding themselves with positive people and trying to live healthier lifestyles. The ultra running community is about so much more than just racing and times and I think being in the outdoors is something that makes all of us feel good. Running can be a bit addictive, to say the least 🙂 

8. Tell us about your nomination to the Ultra-X team. What are your future plans?

It was pretty out of the blue, to be honest, and I was over the moon! I was set to compete in Sri Lanka and had been working closely with Jamie and Sam prior to this but then when it was cancelled I wasn’t sure how the future of racing was looking for the next 6-12 months. I am very excited to be heading to Sri Lanka in 2021 now and also to the world championships in Slovenia!! It is an absolute privilege to be apart of the Ultra X Pro team. 

9. What has been your biggest running accomplishment?

Completing a multi-stage ultra marathon on every continent 

10. Do you have a favourite race?

G2g in the Grand Canyon was spectacular and I felt at my best competing in this event which was my 7th multi-stage race. 

11. Do you have any top tips for staying motivated?

I have found during this COVID-19 time that my motivation levels are quite dependant on having a goal – not necessarily a race but some sort of run/hike, expedition or adventure planned; that I can look forward to and work towards being at my forest and healthiest for! 

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