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Adventure in Tanzania: Jemma’s Endurance Journey

Jemma is ready for an adventure in tanzania.
Jemma Valentine
Year started: 2016
Favorite gear:
  • Any Brooks Road Shoe

Jemma Valentine has come a long way in her endurance sports journey. She first got inspired to start running in 2016 when she was working as a nanny. The family I was working for at the time were very sporty and active. They encouraged me to take up fitness in my spare time, back then I couldn’t even run and I had never been in a gym either! I was not really into it,” Jemma recalls. But with encouragement from the family, she slowly built up her fitness – first just going to the gym and eventually venturing to parkruns on Saturdays. Little did Jemma know that her journey would lead her on an adventure in Tanzania. 

Two Sprints and an Olympic

Since those early days, Jemma has continued challenging herself and building up her endurance. She’s completed numerous half marathons over the years. Last year she also did her first triathlons – We all call them funny names, don’t we? I’ve done two Sprints and one Olympic distance.” Though not a great swimmer initially, Jemma says, “I taught myself to do front crawl…not great to begin with, but I improved!” Her self-coaching paid off and she successfully finished her triathlon goals.


Landscapes in Northern Tanzania

Jemma then walked an ultra-distance event in her native Scotland. Now Jemma has set her sights on her first ultra marathon – Ultra X Tanzania in February 2024. The 220km multi-stage race lasting five days weaves through villages and landscapes in northern Tanzania that tourists rarely access. As Jemma explains, I’m going to be able to take it all in. The best thing about running this distance through Tanzania, is that I’ll be able to see and experience so much more than a normal ‘tourist’ would, on a conventional holiday! She loves adventure travel and pushing her body to the limit, but isn’t racing competitively. She views the Ultra X event as her type of holiday.

Before Nannying and Coaching Clients

Jemma booked early when the race was first announced, however training ramped up 20 weeks out from the race. Having done triathlons last year, she felt she had a solid endurance base before beginning her ultra-specific running training. During the week she runs early in the mornings before coaching and motivating her clients to reach their full potential and she is also a nanny in the afternoons. Jemma also takes her Labrador running, which motivates her to get outside even when she doesn’t feel like it.

Seychelles Holiday

Jemma got a small taste of heat running on a recent Seychelles holiday, though it was a struggle. It was tough! On my first attempt I managed only 8K, before turning back feeling horrendous. It was so hot, hilly and humid,” she admits. But Jemma is feeling more confident after having practiced in the tropical heat and humidity. She’s looking to push her body and mind to the limit over multiple days on the Tanzanian trails.

A Long Journey

Jemma sees endurance sports as a long journey that requires commitment day in and day out. Despite not being a mother herself, her work as a pre/postnatal coach has actually helped her relate better to the endurance aspect of ultra running. She understands that the real rewards come from sticking to the routine when it gets hard. For Jemma, crossing the finish line after an adventure in Tanzania will be that ultimate reward after months of early mornings, long runs, and sacrifice.