When the team at the Michigan Bluff aidstation cut Heather Jackson’s wristband off during the 2023 Western States Endurance Run (WSER) the first thing, okay maybe second thing, on her mind was “How am I going to get a golden ticket?” How quickly things can change and an obession can be born. Just nine months before that moment, on a beach after Kona Heather signed up for her first ever trail race, her first ultra, the Javelina Jundred 100-mile. Two weeks later she took the trail and ultra world by storm, and surprise, when she led convincingly for the first 80 miles of the race. She would ultimately finish 5th – impressive for nearly 75 miles further than her running quads had ever carried her. A year wiser, while she is still a fresh face to the trail scene she is a veteran of endurance sport and is back with the sole intent of coming away with a golden ticket back into WSER.
While Heather might have one of the shorter UltraSignup resumes in the starting field she’s one of the favorites to come away with a fast time and ticket to be back on the WSER start line come June. Last year she took a leap into the unknown, and while experience is generally a good thing Heather is painfully aware of what each step felt like on lap five last October.
“The craziest part of this lead into Javelina is that it’s been one year. It’s my one year anniversary of joining the amazing trail running community. I keep thinking back to last year’s Javelina [100-mile] and I’m almost like, “Is that naviety better than knowing what’s ahead?” because honestly I had no idea. So this year, now knowing what is ahead is a little bit daunting.”
Just a little over a week out from getting back on the Javelina start line, Dylan Bowman and Ryan Thrower headed over to Tucson, Arizona to watch Heather put the finishing touches on her golden ticket training block. Take a look for yourself as Freetrail goes behind the scenes with Heather Jackson on home dirt in Tucson, Arizona.