The marathon Mum...Jess Stenson runs a personal best in Perth
SASI athlete Jess Stenson (nee Trengove) ran her first marathon in three years in Perth last month, crossing the finish line first and clocking the fastest time ever run by an Australian on home soil.
The 34-year-old overcame a bone stress injury in her lower back in the weeks leading up to the race to achieve this impressive feat.
Achieving a new personal record with a time of 2:25:13, Stenson beat her previous best by 46 seconds and has set the fourth-fastest time ever by an Australian.
“I just felt extreme happiness and relief,” Stenson said.
“I made a conscious decision at halfway not to look at the clock, so it wasn’t until the final twenty meters that I realised the time and that I had run a personal best.”
Stenson says that she was able to channel her best on the day simply by trying to do her corner proud.
SASI companion Matt Clarke supported Stenson in Perth by pacing her in the first 32km of the race - a key contributor to her performance on the day.
“It was a personal race, I felt like I was out there representing all the people who have supported me and I wanted to do it for my team and my family.,” Stenson said.
“When I’m running for a reason close to my heart, I tend to get the most out of myself.”
The two-time Olympian never doubted she could get back to her best after welcoming baby boy Billy in late 2019.
Two years on, Stenson and her husband Dylan are now running around with a spirited toddler, but her Olympic dreams are well and truly back in sight.
Initially, Stenson was aiming to compete at the Tokyo Games but an injury saw her miss out on qualification for the event.
Stenson has achieved more than most in the athletics world but says that she owes a lot to coach Adam Didyk who’s been supporting her for more than a decade.
“Without him nudging me in 2008, and creating that vision for me, my life would be very different,” Stenson said.
“Adam understanding me and what makes me tick has been valuable, particularly when it came to me starting a family.
“History together as an athlete and a coach Is something that you can’t fast track or money can’t buy, it’s just something that develops over the years and it’s really special.”
Didyk, who is the South Australian performance coach and national event lead for distance running with Athletics Australia said that the possibility of a personal best for Stenson was always achievable.
“Closer to the time we saw the possibilities of it but in reality, we weren’t expecting it to be as good as it was,” Didyk said.
“She’s had a lot of cancellations with races and it's why Perth was an option as we had confidence in the event going ahead.
“I’ve been coaching her for over 13 years and we have had an ever-evolving and changing relationship as coach and athlete to accommodate the fact that we are both learning and exploring what we can each do.”
Stenson’s performance has opened up some incredible opportunities that will continue her development, with Paris 2024 as the ultimate goal.
After a well-deserved rest, Stenson will begin her 2022 campaign competing in events in Asia and the US that will provide further progression.