The Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist has returned to the sport with great success running a new personal best by 46 seconds.
In a spectacular return to the marathon, dual Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jess Stenson (nee Trengove) has smashed her personal best by 46 seconds to take victory in the Perth Marathon over the weekend with a time of 2:25.13.
Her time is the fourth fastest marathon time by an Australian woman and the fastest marathon time by an Australian woman on home soil, setting up the 34-year-old for an exciting 2022.
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Based in Adelaide, Stenson shared on social media before the race of her hope to keep state borders between South Australia and Western Australia open to allow her to compete in her first marathon since October 2018, and those prayers were heard.
Making the return to the marathon all the sweeter was the rollercoaster of emotions the 2020 and 2021 seasons have had for Stenson.
Just five weeks after the birth of her son, Billy, in November 2019, Stenson began gradually transitioned back into jogging and then running.
Being able to run again reignited the fire in her to chase qualifying for her third Olympic Games and she set herself a goal to compete in the Hamburg Marathon in April 2020 – to attempt to post an Olympic qualifying time of 2:29.30 or better.
While her internal flame was kindling, Stenson’s plan was curtailed by a then unforeseen global pandemic that would cause havoc to the sporting calendar, and the cancellation of Hamburg and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to July 2021.
Then in the lead-up to a last-ditch attempt to qualify for the delayed Tokyo Games, Stenson’s plan was again put on ice due to a bone stress injury.
An injury that resulted in an interrupted preparation to the Perth marathon which Stenson was able to overcome to post her new personal best time.
“I left feeling really happy and excited about what is still possible,” Stenson told Channel 7 upon arriving back in Adelaide on Monday.
“Because it was such a unique prep, I wasn’t really sure how yesterday was going to go.
“I knew I had the mental strength to get through, I just had to hope my body was going to hold up.
“I had every reason to run hard and just run free.”
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The set-back appears to have provided even more fuel to her fire with the sensational result in Perth, seeing Stenson join the ever-growing list of Australian elite marathon mothers including Gold Coast 2018 silver medallist and fellow mum Lisa Weightman and mother of two Sinead Diver who competed at her first Olympics in Tokyo at the age of 44.
After the long road back to the elite marathon level, Stenson’s run in Perth has brought her to a fork in the road, brought about by the ongoing global pandemic.
Due to the domino effect of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics postponement, the World Athletics Champions were rescheduled from August 2021, until 15 July 2022, some two weeks before the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Stenson’s stellar run has earned her qualification for the world championships and for the Australian contingent at Birmingham 2022, now it will be up to her where she decides to where she completes her comeback.