Jenna Bennett is on a mission to raise R10 000 for hospice by participating in next years Comrades Marathon. 2018 marks her 6th consecutive year in Comrades and we caught up with her to find out why she is so passionate about hospice & palliative care!
Could you please tell us a brief overview of your background?
I grew up on a farm in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands and attended school in Pietermaritzburg. I then went on to study Biokinetics at the University of Pretoria. I am a Biokineticist based in Johannesburg. I love my job as it ties in nicely with my interest in Sport as well as working with people from different backgrounds and abilities. Every day is different, and each client poses different challenges.
What got you started into running – was there anyone close to you that inspired you?
I have always been a very active person. At school I competed in track events (100 and 200m), swimming, water polo and hockey. I still play competitive hockey. So it is safe to say that running has always been a part of my life in one form or another. With regards to Comrades, well, that was never meant to happen! 6 years ago I entered for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon after having completed the 21km the year before and didn’t want to battle thousands of people on the small route again the following year. A good friend of mine, Elana Lee was also running her race was in preparation for Comrades. After the race she casually said “If you can run 56km, you can run 90km!” Some solid runners’ logic right there! Every time I now enter for Comrades I try convincing Elana to join for one more run. She started it after all!
How long have you been running for in general and for comrades?
In general I have been running my entire life whether it is for hockey fitness or athletics. I grew up on a farm with two older brothers so I was always running from something! In terms of Comrades, 2018 will be my 6th consecutive run. Running is a passion of mine so I will run for as long as I enjoy it and hopefully me body allows it to continue till I reach that point.
What do you enjoy about the event?
Comrades is such a unique South African experience. There are not many races in the world where you will find 20 000 people singing and dancing before the start of a 90km run! There is a buzz around the event which never dies down from the moment entries open on 1 September till long after the final gun has gone off on race day. It offers the opportunity for every South African to participate. People come together to help each other in some many different ways. The energy of the runners and supporters is something that keeps me coming back each year. It is also a deeply personal journey for each runner. I believe it changes each person for the better.
How do you prepare for an event this big?
Motivation! Consistency and dogged determination! You just have to put your head down and do the training and always remember what your end goal is. I gradually increase mileage each month and listen to my body.
Who are your biggest fans/supporters?
Definitely my parents (seen in my picture at the finish of a down run) they have always supported us in all endeavours. My clients are also huge supporters; many are current/ ex Comrades runners themselves.
What is your favourite food before and after a run?
Before the race I always have Spaghetti Bolognaise for my pre-race dinner. Breakfast is usually toast with peanut butter and a banana.
Do you enjoy running alone or prefer a group?
Shorter runs I enjoy by myself as it is one of the few times during the day that I can have completely to myself. Longer runs I join a group as it makes it easier to complete the distance and staves off boredom.
How has running changed your life?
I have a lot more self-belief thanks to running. A more positive outlook on life and I know that any challenge that comes my way can be overcome but breaking it down into smaller obstacles and tackling them one at a time. It provides me with a ‘zone-out’ time and brings a sense of calm. I am more appreciative of my body and what it can achieve and humbled to be able to achieve things such as completing Comrades.
Is there any particular reason you chose Hospice as your preferred beneficiary?
I chose Hospice as I believe and have seen the wonderful work it does. Working with many clients who suffer from chronic neurological conditions and some terminal clients I have had very positive interactions with hospice and the positive impact hospice has had on the patient and on the families involved. Hospice allows a patient dignity, comfort and lets them know they are not alone.
Help Jenna reach her target of R10 000 for hospice by donating here.