It was “crazy because the winds made it hard to stand at times, and whiteout conditions added to the challenge," she tells TODAY.
Nothing intimidates 56-year-old Jill Jamieson. She successfully finished the challenge, which entailed running seven 26.2-mile marathons on seven different continents over the course of seven days. Although she claims she isn't an elite athlete, everyone would disagree if they knew she competed in the World Marathon Challenge from January 31 to February 6. She ran her first race in Antarctica.
It was “crazy because the winds made it hard to stand at times, and whiteout conditions added to the challenge," she tells TODAY.com. “I’m an average, somewhat weathered human doing the best she can, so I may or may not be able to reach the finish line of this epic challenge, but I promise to give it everything I have,” Jamieson says.
Her love for her father, who passed away from Alzheimer's disease, inspired her to take on this challenge. “Running helped me cope following my father’s diagnosis in 2010,” she says, adding, “I run to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimer’s.”
Jamieson calls her father a wonderful individual. She writes, “About the time he retired, I could see he was lost,” she says, adding that at first, the changes were minor. But things changed when Jamieson returned on a business trip. “When I returned home and saw my father, I could see that the changes were more pronounced,” she says, adding that they ran a lot of tests and found out, “We had him tested for dementia, and the results came back as positive. The drugs didn’t help much, and in the last six to seven years, he couldn’t recognize us. It’s a sad, horrible disease.”
Even though running wasn't Jamieson's first choice of physical activity, she has embraced the sport more since her dad's sickness as a coping mechanism. She enjoys tennis, skiing, and swimming the most. But frequently, her work required her to travel to locations where those sports were scarce. But for, Jamieson, the task is to adjust to many factors, stay on the route, and feel proud of herself for progressing.
“Calling attention to this disease and finding solutions to Alzheimer’s is why I do this,” she says, adding, “One out of every three seniors will suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. So many of us are impacted by this disease.”
In addition to being encouraging, Jamieson's family finds it amusing that she is willing to do these taxing marathons. In preparation for the North Pole Marathon in April, she has already begun her retraining. “Jill’s incredible effort, spirit and passion will make a difference in the lives of those facing Alzheimer’s,” says Wendy Vizek, vice president of Constituent Events and Field Operations for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Jill Jamieson