The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Jess Winnett Places First in Double Marathon

2002 WHS grad (and former Times intern) loves the challenge of ultra-distance running


February 22, 2018

Courtesy Photo

Jess Winnett competes in the Franklin Mountain State Park Race in Texas.

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. – When it comes to running, Jess (Jessie) Winnett thinks longer is better. Why run a marathon, when you can run a double marathon?

Jess, daughter of Andy and Denise Winnett, ran the Goodwater Trail Race – opting for the double-marathon event – in Georgetown, Tex. on Jan. 27. She finished in 11 hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds, to take first place among the four women double-marathon runners. She placed second overall among the 14 men and women who opted to run the double.

Winnet said she has run another 50-miler and several 50k distance races.

"I don't usually win races – this one just happened to be a small race," she said, humbly.

The 33-year-old, who graduated from Waitsburg High School in 2002, said she entered the sport reluctantly.

"I started running in college because I had a roommate who made me run with her. I hated it! So boring. So hard. Really, running was stupid," Jess said.

But a few years out of college, she made some good friends who ran and changed her perspective.

"Running became fun because we chatted a lot and then had an excuse to go eat brunch. Now, running is time I have to think, or sometimes not think. And when I can run trails, it's time to spend in nature and see lots of beautiful things I wouldn't get to see otherwise. Now running is just part of my routine. A day isn't complete without a run in there somewhere," she said.

Jess said the best part of the sport is all the amazing people she has met.

"I know people all over the country because of running. The other best part is that it's the single best way to get to know an area. You get to really see things when you're not driving 80 mph (Texas!). Sunrises, sunsets, really high peaks you can see miles and miles from, and even touristy areas, like the Riverwalk, are better seen on a run," she said.

"And anyone can be a runner. You don't have to join a club or go to a game or even buy much equipment (although a good pair of shoes is imperative), you just have to get out the door and put one foot in front of the other," she added.

Jess said she is drawn to ultra-distance running because of the challenge it adds to her life.

"It's a challenge to train, to find the time to run 70+ miles a week, to find the motivation to run at 5 a.m., and to ask your body to do anything for that long. I am not fast and I'm not the most talented athlete out there, but ultra distances require you to have mental grit, and to problem-solve to get through it," she said.

"Plus, there's all the food you get to eat when you're done (and during)! There's nothing like the feeling you get after you've finished running longer than you ever thought you could," she added.

Fittingly, when not running, Jess, who lives in San Antonio, Tex. and works as a buyer for a running store. "Even though I have a journalism degree, thanks to my short stint at The Times," said Jess, who interned at The Times while in high school.


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