Jessica Young’s journey to competing in her first half marathon has strengthened her bond with her granddad and prepared her for her next career move.
Jessica competed in the Buller Half Marathon over the weekend, the culmination of almost eight months of effort.
One of the first faces she saw at the finish line was her grandfather, Mick Barrett, who had coached her all the way by setting out running plans, cycling alongside her during training and acting as her water boy on longer sessions.
The 21-year-old was hoping to complete the 21.1km distance in under two hours – she achieved that by eight minutes.
“I really enjoyed it, running alongside the Buller Gorge was really beautiful.
“I’m looking forward to going back next year and trying to beat my time.”
The training regime had also helped Jessica get ready for police training.
“Having granddad do this with me has been awesome and it’s made me get out there and do it – it’s made me accountable.
“When I’ve done trainings without him, I always gave him a call to say I had done it.”
Mick says he noticed Jessica needed some guidance a couple of months ago.
“I’d helped with some of her police training and she started talking about the half marathon.
“That’s more my area because I’d done half marathons in my younger days and run as a masters competitor.”
Mick went about “putting some quality into Jessica’s running.
He used short sprints, hill runs and longer distances over time to get his granddaughter in the shape required.
“You have to get your body used to going faster, especially when you are tired,” Jessica says.
“Granddad always has me up on my toes running up the hills and ensuring I keep the same speed as if I was running on the flat.
“We did a 22km run out at Rabbit Island as training and granddad was really good, he’d cycle ahead of me and act as my drink station and give me encouragement as I went past,” Jessica says.
Mick says he’s loved helping his granddaughter achieve her goals.“It’s an enjoyable experience training Jess, and it’s kept me mentally active and switched on.”