|Australian 100k Road Running Team in 2009|
I have just heard of the passing of Jackie Fairweather. I am still in a little bit of shock. My thoughts go out to Simon and the rest of her family and friends.
Jackie was someone I admired from a young age. When I was a young boy and teenager I was always glued to the triathlon series that they used to show on free to air TV every weekend in the Summer. You could bet that Jackie would be there leading the charge. I loved Jackie's style because, well she was just a damn great runner for a triathlete! I loved seeing her mow down the field on the leg run, time after time after time.
The admiration continued after her triathlon days when she began her marathoning career. She was such a gutsy, determined and bloody smart runner. Not lightning quick for a marathoner, but when it came to strategy and gusting out a race, she would always show her class. I remember watching her grab bronze in the Aussie trifecta at one of the Commonwealth Games.
I feel very honoured to have gotten to know Jackie through her last competitive sport; ultrarunning. In 2009, we were on the Australian 100k road running team together for the first Commonwealth Ultra Distance and Mountain Running Championship, which was also my first time in an Aussie singlet. Jackie was a calming and influential part of the team and someone whose presence was particularly useful for me being a bundle of nerves and very green around the gills. She was very open with advice and was always willing to share her wealth of 'racing' knowledge with the team.
It will go unmentioned in a lot of tributes I'm sure this week in favour of her triathlon and marathon exploits (and rightly so), so I just want to remind everyone of some of her remarkable achievements in her relatively short yet successful ultra running career. That day in Keswick she easily won the 100k and just missed the Aussie women's record by 40 seconds or so. I remember afterwards that Jackie was filthy that she hadn't done her research on this as she later said she could have easily broke that - always the fierce competitor! Jackie was also the Australian 100k Road Champion in 2009 and is one of only 3 Aussie ladies to go under 8 hours.
Jackie still has the Australian road 50k and 6h records. But apart from all the victories, records and disciplines she performed at a world class level in, she was an inspiration and mentor to countless weekend warriors and someone we all respected for the way she carried herself throughout her career.
In three weeks time in Doha at the 100k World Championships, and as Captain of the Aussie team, I'm going to propose the team dedicate the day to Jackie. I know I will be.