Some people’s first attempt at the London Marathon might be their last over the distance, but Jess Draskau-Petersson’s has taken her all the way to the London Olympics.
The Stragglers Running Club athlete, a former Great Britain duathlete, was confirmed in Denmark’s squad for the Games last month, having only returned to running last July after a four-year break with a knee injury.
Draskau-Petersson, a regular at the Richmond and Bushy Park parkruns with 18 women’s race wins, bettered the Olympic A qualifying standard in clocking two hours, 34 minutes and 56 seconds at the London Marathon in April – her first effort at the distance.
The 34-year-old, who was born in Denmark but has lived in Britain since the age of 13, only quit her job as a full time human resources manager earlier this year to focus on training full time.
And Draskau-Petersson, who has lived in and around Kingston for the past four years, believed her late rise to prominence could work in her favour.
“My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in June last year and I decided I wanted to turn that news into something positive,” she said from her training base in Teddington.
“I thought I’d do a marathon and I thought why not give getting to the Olympics a try. I’d hoped my father would be able to be there in person, but that is not possible now.
“I sent an email to the Danish Athletic Association to tell them what I wanted to do and to find out how I went about it. They must have thought I was mad.
“I’ve always wanted to compete for Denmark, it is where I grew up and now I’m getting the chance to do it in Britain where I live. I was never really on their radar until then and even then they really didn’t pay that much attention to me.
“It wasn’t until I did a Bath half marathon in March in 73 minutes that they started to take notice.
“That is when I started to think it was possible and now I hope to carry on to make the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“I think it will help that I have come from nowhere in a short space of time, because no one has heard of me.”
Draskau-Petersson, who first moved to the Isle of Man in the early 90s, is a four-time world elite long-distance duathlon silver medallist for Great Britain, but was forced out of action after an accident on her bike in 2007.
Her return to competitive running has included finishing third in the Cabbage Patch 10km race in Twickenham last October and clocking 1.30:47 at the Kingston Breakfast Run in April.
She has since teamed up with Isleworth-based coach Noel Stoddart and his Harambee Running Club and is now running 100-miles-a-week to prepare for London.
“After coming back, before I knew it I went from training twice a week, to three times and so on. I had to give up my job,” she added.
“Noel’s group is full of young talented runners and I’m the old lady of the team.
“It has been tough and I don’t know how I’m going to manage until the Olympics. It is hard work, but I love it.”
For sponsorship details, email Jess at jdpLondon firstname.lastname@example.org.