Heather Jackson may already have her spot booked at Western States but she has a multitude of reasons for another big performance at the Black Canyon 100k race this weekend.
The former triathlon star, winner of multiple IRONMAN races, has really made her mark in the trail running sphere over the last 12 months.
She was runner-up at Black Canyon last year and notched six victories in 2023, rounding it off at the Javelina Jundred, a 100-mile trail running race through the Arizona desert where the win earned her ‘Golden Ticket’ to Western States.
‘Amazing prep opportunity’
The American is back in Arizona this week as she kicks off her 2024 campaign and in the latest video on her YouTube channel she revealed: “My biggest goal is just to use this race as a really amazing prep opportunity for Western States [in which she was a DNF last year].
“I can practice my nutrition and I can practice running on some technical up and down terrain – a good part of this course simulates some of the canyons we have to get in and out of at Western States.
“So first and foremost it’s a really good practice day. It’s a long day on the feet as part of my build in towards June.”
Can she beat 8:47?
But don’t for a minute think Jackson will be coasting round as she added: “It’s an amazing opportunity to race some of the best women out there who are all going to be really gunning to get a Golden Ticket so people are going to be racing hard and I love those style of races.
I love when it’s time to go for it – that gets me excited.
“I’m very much an athlete who tries to progress so a secondary goal is just to see if I’ve improved at all over the last year.
“It’s tough to give time goals because the weather can be so different year to year but last year I ran 8:47 on this course so I want to see if I can improve on that this year.”
She was second 12 months ago, in what was just her second trail race, and as she looks to go one better she reveals a perhaps surprising word that she’ll use as motivation when the going gets tough – all is revealed near the end of the video!
Back on the bike
Jackson also talks about how she still very much uses tough indoor bike sessions from her triathlon days to improve her overall fitness, explaining: “Black Canyon 100k is the first race of the year and obviously I’ve been really focused on trying to work on my trail running and be even more ready for this race than I was last year.
“But I still do plenty of bike work because I think that complements my run fitness and my overall fitness.
“Beyond just piling on way more miles, I schedule my week so that I’m hitting certain run workouts on fatigued legs and those legs are fatigued because I just did a super hard bike workout.
“Or I’ll do some of my runs off the bike similar to how I train for triathlon and that’s again to simulate that fatigued leg state that I will face you know three, four, five hours into the trail races.
“When your legs are heavy and you don’t feel like running and you still push through, that’s what you’re going to face on race day.”