Jill Washington

Jill Washington photo by Marc Antomattei

MSM: What made you want to tackle the marathon?

JRW: I am a member of Black Chicago Runners. Members encouraged me to try the distance after I tackled doing a half marathon. My friend Jeff West really talked me into it, as well. 

MSM: There are marathons and then there are majors which have a different vibe all together. Take us through the feelings of running that first world major and crossing the finish on the last one. Also, when did you know that you wanted to capture all 6 marathon majors?

JRW: I am fortunate that I live in Chicago, so my first marathon was a major – the Chicago Marathon. Meeting people from around the world, hearing the crowds cheering for us… all of the just got me going! I decided to try the others for the challenge of trying other courses, especially overseas. My last marathon in the majors was Tokyo. Going across the finish line was surreal because I realized that I was done with the journey. Bittersweet.

MSM: We’ve spoken about the races and running the majors but what has this experience felt like to you, the journey, struggles and training. Give our readers some insight into what those feelings were like going from marathon to marathon, I’m sure each one has a different story and perspective.

JRW: The struggles have definitely been real!! Trying to get into the majors is a challenge. You don’t just sign up, show up and run. I had to qualify for Boston to run it. I had to do extra things like running virtuals, (New York) or getting up early in the morning for extra chances to get into the race (Berlin). Marathon Tours helped with Tokyo and London. Lots of training. Big expense. But it was worth it to get the special medal. 

MSM: We are all runners but one of the things we seldom talk about is our full-time responsibilities outside of running. It’s amazing how most of us can find the time to train and run anywhere from 30–60-mile weeks all while balancing our day-to-day responsibilities. Crossing the finish line, finishing all the six-star world majors is an accomplishment, but what’s next? 

JRW: I had to think about that. I will be doing Chicago again since it’s my hometown race. And I love running so I will still be doing it. I love traveling for the races so I will be doing the California International Marathon soon. Maybe the Paris Marathon in the next couple of years. And I’m debating doing the 7 continents.

MSM: For those that are on this journey what words of encouragement, inspiration or advice would you share with other fellow runners?

JRW: don’t let anything stand in your way. I started running the year I turned 50. Almost nine years later, I’m still going strong with no plans to stop. Get a trainer. Get with a run group. And then just run! 

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