Athletic Prodigy Running Through the Australian Mountain Peaks and Valley Depths

The reason that one stays in the sport of running is an interesting conception. An equally fascinating discussion is the reason why one gets into the sport. Some of the athletes entered the discipline because they wanted to get involved in school, others picked up running as a conditioning tool for other sports, quite a few wanted to get into shape and then some others wanted to go as fast as they could, as far as they could. But there also a select few who got into running because of pedigree.

In the early 1990s, a young athlete started biking next to her father to accompany him on his long runs on Monday nights. This became more of an activity than a hobby. In a family of several siblings, this runner did not have to look far for inspiration. With her father being a Level 2 Track and Field Coach, her brother a pro-cyclist on the Gold Coast and her sister a competitive race walker, this Australian runner is flying the family tradition up high on the mountains around the world.

Jessamy Hosking, is a relatively newcomer, to the discipline of mountain running with five years experience. But having the regimented foundation of a runner, she has quickly risen to the heights of the mountain running world. In the Commonwealth Championships held in Keswick, UK in 2009, Hosking was the top Australian in both the Up-only and Up-and-Down mountain events. She had preceded this performance with a 33rd place finish at the World Mountain Running Championships in 2009.

  

                                                                                           Jessamy Hosking

                                             Jessamy Hosking running the hills in Keswick at the Commonwealth Championships

 

For an athlete who has been in the sport since she was four years old, I asked her on where it all began. Hosking recalls, “We (siblings) used to go for training jogs with my Dad and my first races were the weekly Saturday morning Cross Country events in my hometown.” Nothing fascinates youth to remain in a sport than competitions. Being in a competitive athletic family, support and encouragement, were abundant.

Hosking light-heartedly shares her fondest memory growing up in an athletic environment, “One Monday night we were near a pond and a huge snake was lying across the path. My dad ran straight past it and I was so scared I wouldn’t keep riding.” She adds, “He had to run back past it and get my bike and physically push me past it whilst I was screaming.” As this frightening experience did not deter her from hitting the trails again, there was little doubt that this young athlete would go all the way, to the brim of the national elites.

On being asked if the disciplined life and having her father as a coach shaped her future outlook on life, Hosking said, “Definitely, I grew up training and running and it is part of my everyday life and I love it.” She goes on to touch on what running means to her, “Being in the sport has taught me everything such as perseverance & toughness. It has given me a world of opportunities and friendships.” The sport of running, whether track and field, mountain or ultra running, has struck a happy balance between being competitive and yet having that human friendly aspect to the competitions.

Hosking’s discipline and competitive nature was in full-display, may be not as apparent, when she participated at the Empire State Run Up with a broken foot. I was intrigued, curious, amazed and she explained, “When I won the Sydney Tower race in August 2008 I wasn’t injured and the prize was a trip to NY to do the Empire State Run Up. Just 5 weeks out from the NY event I broke my 2nd metatarsal and I couldn’t walk a step.” While recuperating from the injury she stayed in shape by staying in the pool and biking. She went on to talk about the race day, “I started off and I was in huge pain the whole way just hoping no one would step on my foot!! I got to the top and I got 4th place I was so happy but so sore at the same time.” Post race she did a few laps in a swimming pool to alleviate the sharp pain.

Hosking has regularly placed on the podium at the Sydney Tower Up in addition to her top place finishes at the Black Mountain Challenges and the Australian National Championships. I asked her why Mountain Runners have taken up the discipline of Stair climbing so well. She shed some light on this, “Mountain runners have huge fitness and quad strength/V02 max and it directly crosses over to Stair Running.”

Being one of the top runners in a very competitive mountain running nation is not easy. Hosking puts in the training that is required to stay in shape and elevate her fitness level to compete in the various events she participates in throughout the course of the year. Her training regimen includes weekly mileage between 150-160 kilometres with a combination of long, short and specific sessions throughout the week.

The inaugural Commonwealth Championships were a unique experience for a lot of athletes. Hosking shared her thoughts in this regard, “I loved the Commonwealth Championships because it was a well run and friendly event that catered for everybody ranging from the distance road runners to the Mountain Runners.” Like many of the other athletes, she had a short ten day turnover between the worlds and the commonwealths. Hosking, in the interim, chose to go to Switzerland to train, “I found that by living and training at altitude my fitness levels were probably one of the highest they have ever been leading up to the Champs.” 

Team placing can be a tactical aspect even in an individualized sport as running. I asked Hosking on how the team dynamics played a part in the Commonwealth Championships. She agreed to team strategy and said, “When you’re running for your Country you want all your team members to do as well as possible so I guess that is where the team aspect comes into it.” Expanding further on this topic she said, “We all tend to get out there and cheer for each other and generally help anyone out in the team who needs it!” Team spirit truly elevates individual performances.

Australia has placed very well in the international mountain running competitions, finishing just out of the team medals, in fourth position at the Commonwealth Championships. Hosking discussed the increased popularity of the sport in her home country, “Mountain Running in Australia is a growing sport and the fact that we even have such good events and organisation is mainly thanks to John Harding.” She shares her own experience, “There is just something amazing about starting a race at the bottom of a mountain and after finishing looking down the mountain at the amazing views and realising that I have just done something that most people will never be able to do!” 

I put Hosking on the spot and asked her to list the highlights from her career that epitomises the athlete she is today. She responded without hesitation, “Running as a kid with my family, definitely the 4th place in the Empire State 2009 run up and just how much I have learnt from realising that if you are tough and really want something, discipline and hard work go a long way and set you in good stead for all areas of life.”

Discipline, hard work and determination are all necessary ingredients to any success story. It is quite evident that Hosking has a balanced combination of all of this in her running career. Being a relative newbie in the sport, Hosking admits that she has several goals to achieve and numerous accolades to collect. But she is destined to work towards all that she wants to achieve from her tenure in the sport. 

In the very near future, this runner will look down the mountain she has just run and be appreciative of the fact that a snake on the road did not deter her from conquering the trails. She might, just might, follow this by a jog down the mountain looking back at the peak, realizing how far she has come from her humble beginnings as a young cyclist, accompanying her father on his long runs in the back trails of Australia.

 

Nadeem Khan

Media and Communications Officer

nadeem.khan@ultramountaincommonwealthchampionships.org