Ultra marathon runner Jacqui Bell during her journey in Iceland.
Ultra marathon runner Jacqui Bell during her journey in Iceland. Contributed

Ipswich runner leaves her footprints all over the globe

FORMER Ipswich schoolgirl Jacqui Bell has become the youngest person in the world to complete ultramarathons on all seven continents.

The 24-year-old personal trainer recently completed two ultramarathons to achieve her goal, which happened to be on opposite sides of the world in differing climates.

An ultramarathon is anything longer than a normal marathon of 42.19km but is usually anywhere between 250-350km and run over multiple days.

 

Jacqui Bell during her ultra marathon in Iceland, where she braved the icy winds every day.
Jacqui Bell during her ultra marathon in Iceland, where she braved the icy winds every day. Contributed

Miss Bell braved the icy winds and freezing river crossings on her journey through the picturesque landscape of Iceland in August, before jumping on a plane a few weeks later to head to the US, where she raced on the fine and hot sand, as well as climbed the steep gorges in the Grand Canyon.

"Both terrains were very difficult and challenging in their own different ways," the former Ipswich Girls' Grammar student said.

"Iceland was my sixth continent race and it was 250km and that was over six days, back-to-back.

"It was pretty crazy - it was really windy and cold.

 

Ultra marathon runner Jacqui Bell during her journey in Iceland.
Ultra marathon runner Jacqui Bell during her journey in Iceland. Contributed

"Iceland had a lot of volcanic ash and that was really tough to run on.

"There was also a really big dust storm on the first day and at the end of the day after that first 50km, I was just black from everything in the air. It looked like I had put my head in a chimney.

"It felt like razors were hitting my skin. It was a huge storm, I had never seen anything like it before."

While battling the Icelandic conditions, one of Miss Bell's toenails was coming off, so she was forced to rip it out with the help of another runner to continue the race.

 

Ultra marathon runner Jacqui Bell during her journey in Iceland.
TOUGH TERRAINS: Ultra marathon runner Jacqui Bell during her journey in Iceland. Contributed

"Because I still had a few days left to run, we put the toenail back on and strapped it up," she said.

"At the end of the race I had to deal with it and it had grown back in, so the risk of infection was really high.

"So I had to rip it out myself. It was gross."

However Miss Bell persevered and was the first female to cross the finish line.

From one extreme to another, she then jetted off to the US, where she battled the intense desert heat for her race through the Grand Canyon.

"You build almost 9000 feet of altitude in the race, the total ascent over the six stages is 5500m and a total descent of 4500m," she said.

"The soft sand there was crazy. It was something like 80per cent soft sand but it wasn't soft sand like we have here. It's super, super fine and just melts away."

Running in the canyon also caused more havoc for her feet.

 

Jacqui Bell running through the Pink Sand Dunes in Kanab, Utah.
Jacqui Bell running through the Pink Sand Dunes in Kanab, Utah. Contributed

"Running through the Grand Canyon I got the start of trench foot because it was so hot," Miss Bell said.

"I wear things which cover my ankles to keep all the sand out but it also keeps the heat in.

"The trench foot was very sore, because you're foot is literally rotting."

Miss Bell finished second in this race.

"My overall position wasn't great because I got an hour and 20 minutes in time penalties," she said.

Miss Bell has clocked up 1850km by running the seven ultramarathons and has set her sights on revisiting some of her favourite places.

 

You can keep up to date with her running adventures overseas by searching @jacquiabell on Instagram.

 

Former Ipswich girl Jacquie Bell running the ultra marathon through the Grand Canyon.
GRUELLING TERRAIN: Former Ipswich girl Jacqui Bell running the ultramarathon through the Grand Canyon. Contributed