Former IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships podium placer Heather Jackson is relishing a fresh challenge in 2023 as she transitions to ultra-running and gravel racing.
For almost a decade, 38-year-old Jackson has been one of the leading American women in long course triathlon, with the PTO world ranked #48 still finding herself on top of the podium in her last year of the sport, with second at IRONMAN Lake Placid and third at IRONMAN 70.3 Oregon in 2022.
However, after a long-course triathlon career that has seen Jackson represent the star spangled banner worldwide, at some of the sports biggest competitions, she is now hanging up her trisuit to focus on two new pursuits.
Heading into the unknown
After breaking the news at the end of 2022, Jackson shared more of her reasoning behind the switch in a new video on her YouTube channel, embedded below, where she revealed why she had decided to step away from full-distance racing.
The New Hampshire native shared that there was “a point where I was racing IRONMAN where it just got to repeat, just the same thing over and over, and it is hard after a while to look forward to doing the same thing again and again”.
The Oregon-based athlete, who raced her first ultra last year, went on to state that “I feel so invigorated, so remotivated, so excited to go after these new challenges”, adding that ultra and gravel racing are “two sports that require, not completely different training, but different focuses to what I’ve been doing for so long now”.
Jackson summarised her decision at the start of the video, explaining that:
As one chapter in my professional athletic career comes to an end, a new chapter begins.
“Testing myself against the best gravel cyclists and ultra runners in the world has become my new passion, my new career, and I’m both thankful and excited for this next journey I’m about to embark on.”
Jackson will be beginning her ultra running season with the Black Canyons Trail Ultra 100km on February 18th and will additionally be pursuing her gravel racing goals in the Life Time Grand Prix series throughout 2023.