Six continents, six Ironmans

Athlete two events away from making history

Jackie Faye
Jackie Faye
Image: Supplied

Armed with a passion for seeing more women in male-dominated industries, American Jackie Faye is looking to show women from all walks of life that anything is possible.

Based in Afghanistan, where she works as a military journalist, Faye is now only two events away from becoming the first woman to tread where no other has gone before.

Faye is attempting to become the first woman to complete six Ironman events on six continents in a single year.

Having completed four Ironman events last year, Asia-Pacific (June), Switzerland (July) Taiwan (October) and Mar Del Plata (December), the Standard Bank Ironman Africa Championships to be held in the metro this weekend will be her fifth, with only the North American event in June to come.

Speaking about the four races she has completed, Faye said each came with its own unique challenges.

“Taiwan was the hardest because it was so hot, Argentina was very windy, so that too posed a slight problem, I thought I was going to drown in Cairns, [Asia-Pacific], but nothing will stop me, if I fail, I will try again,” she said.

Faye said each race came with added pressure “because if I don’t finish, I will have to start from the very beginning”.

“Training in Afghanistan was not part of my plan when I set about this challenge, but when I received the opportunity to work as a military journalist I knew I had to go,” she said.

“Living and training in Afghanistan has definitely put my goal into perspective.

“I see that success is not just about the Ironman medals, but also showing women they can do the seemingly impossible if they just take one step at a time.”

Faye is the founder of She Can Tri, which operates in partnership with Service Women’s Action Group.
Together the organisations support, connect and advocate for military women.

She holds a BA in business journalism from the Columbia University and also attended Georgetown University’s Institute of Political Journalism.

She also has a BA in broadcast journalism from the University of South Carolina.

Faye did her first Ironman event in Canada as part of her 30th birthday in 2015.

Her training routine consists of about 14 hours a week, when she can, fitting in two sessions a day.

She goes to gym in the morning and a second instalment consisting of high intensity interval training, or a stop over at the US Embassy to swim a few laps in the pool, completes the day.

“In an attempt to save my body I actually run very little until race day,” Faye said.

Faye, who pays for all her Ironman adventures from her own pocket, said: “I don’t have a coach or a fancy training watch. My fighter’s spirit makes up for my lack of equipment.”

“When I feel like complaining, I think of what the women in Afghanistan endure.

“As an American, as long as I have a pulse, I don’t have an excuse not to push the boundaries.”

This, she said, was the point of the entire journey.

“Nothing will stop me from achieving my goals,” Faye said.