After winning the female division of the 2014 Wings for Life World Run in Santa Clarita, Jeannie Rutherford hasn’t stopped succeeding in all aspects of her life. Whether it be training for triathlons, working full time, or being a wife and mother of two, Rutherford knows how to conquer all aspects of her life. We had the opportunity to catch up with her and talk about her life, training, and goals for this year’s run.
Q: Tell me about your experience with Wings For Life (WFL) since winning in 2014.
A: Winning WFL has really changed my life, along with my families life, which has been amazing. We have had the opportunity to meet so many new people with a spinal cord injury and without. My family has embraced the cause and there is not a month that goes by that we don’t talk about the race itself, the people we met, or what lies ahead. My daughter has literally worn a WFL shirt at least once a week, probably more, since the day we did the race in 2014. She is a true ambassador as she does “talks at school” about the event itself and what it means to her. Seeing her react this way makes my heart melt as this event has become more than a race, but an experience and lasting memory.
Q: How is it being a Wings For Life Ambassador?
A: I am truly honored that I have been involved in this movement since the beginning. It really has opened my eyes as to how this injury changes someone’s life in an instant and not just them, but everyone around them. Like I said above, there really is not a month that goes by that this event is not mentioned in our family. We all as a family have profound respect for anyone that is involved with this type of injury and make it a point of always representing WFL in way that would make them proud to be a part of the movement to find a cure. We are making improvements each and every day and WFL is helping achieve that goal.
Q: How do you feel about the competition among the top females?
A: Competition is tough and getting tougher as each year goes by because who doesn’t want to win for something that can happen to them at any moment. The distance that can be covered by humans is growing each and every day; ultrarunners are amazing to watch! The location brings an element that is challenging from night, morning, hills, flat, rain, or sunshine you never know what you are going to get. What I can say is this, last year while I was around mile 22, I met the runner that won the Italian Wings For Life World Run. We chatted for a bit as we knew the front runner was way out there and the math was not adding up; we knew we couldn’t catch her with the car picking up speed. In what race do you just start to chat?! We found so many things in common and talked about our experiences since we started running this event and how inspired we are to keep going. It was a moment I will not forget.
Q: Can you describe your training and nutrition plan?
A: Training for WFLWR is different than other races you attempt, being that you are being chased and unaware of how far you are expected to go, so you must train for the unknown. I take the race in different sections; therefore my training plan changes a bit, as opposed to a normal race. I train with 5 days of pure running, consisting of tempo, speed, and work with some longer hill runs thrown in at least once a week. You must fuel for this race the same as you would for a marathon; I fuel up every 3 to 4 miles hoping to get at least a marathon in or more. Therefore, my nutrition plan leading up to the race encourages just that, small “meals” throughout the day with a mix of carbs and protein – yep us runners have to have carbs!
Q: Do you have a goal set for this year?
A: My goal for this year is get to the marathon marker. I was just shy last year and was a bit disappointed, but the fact that I can run inspires me to keep trying, remember to never take anything for granted, and strive to be better. Age is catching up with me, but don’t count me out just yet! Also, my other goal is not just distance, but how many people I can get to join my team. We need to find a cure for the cause because after all that is why we are all out there. Join my family and team “I WILL I CAN” and let’s outrun that car together!