It was like meeting Wonder Woman. She climbs mountains and swims in oceans, she rappels, and treks, kayaks and loves thinking up events combining all kinds of strenuous activities. Think of an endurance sport and she’s done it.
Jennifer Strong McConachie, 38, also is a wife to Parker Strong and a mother to daughter Penelope, 2 1/2, and son Lachlan, 1.
I have wanted to meet Jennifer ever since I read Taylor Eldridge’s article about her and the book she wrote, “Go Far.” Let me tell you, here’s a woman who has gone far.
In her book she tells how endurance sports can impact your life. After you read her book you might not want to climb a mountain or do a triathlon, but you will be inspired.
Thanks to her enthusiasm and good health the blue-eyed blond looks 10 years younger than her age. After learning what all she’s done, I thought she should look ten years older than she is.
She took part in her first triathlon at age seven and she’s been participating in all kinds of physical challenges ever since. At North High she was a runner and she swam for Wichita Swim Club. At Kansas State, where she got her journalism degree, she was on the rowing team.
It seems she has done every type of run you can think of. She not only runs, but she does ultra runs. That’s any race longer than a marathon. A few years ago she did an adventure run in Patagonia that involves such things as navigating, rappelling, trekking and paddling. The year before that she took part in a desert stage race in Namibia where you don’t have a set course in a series of races that lasts several days.
And I loved this one. She explained a new trend, “Swimrunning.” In Stockholm she did a swimrun where the runners wore a wet suit because they ran between bodies of water. Then they would swim, get out and run again. She said it must have been quite a sight for people to see runners in wet suits and special shoes. “But you had to wear a wet suit, the water was 50 degrees. It was so cold!”
Her adventures also include swimming from Europe to Asia across the Dardanelles Straight, hiking Mt. Rainier, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Mt. Elbrus in Russia. “Now that was whole different sport,” she said of Mt. Elbrus. For this mountain she packed her hard-shell mountaineering boots and her ice axe, helmet, harness expedition food and her clothing based on her five-layer system.
Before she goes to a country she reads books about it. She reads books by authors from that country, she watches documentaries about the country and movies that were filmed there. When she’s there she not only does adventurous, endurance sports she studies the culture.
That’s one reason the book is fun to read. Another is to see the wonderful relationship she has with her dad, Mike Strong. “He was the one who got me into running,” she said. He also is an endurance sports enthusiast and has coached his daughter from time to time. “He had climbed Mt. Elbrus before, so he was a big help,” she said.
Jennifer says her mom, Debbie Strong, has always been very supportive. “But I’m sure I’ve caused her to worry from time to time,” she said.
Jennifer’s husband, Parker Strong, also is very athletic and takes part in some events. As a family they do hiking with their children in their backpacks. Jennifer showed me a photo of herself with Penelope in her backpack and Lachlan attached to her front. “We were trekking,” she said.
Her creative mind has served her well in her job at Nye Advertising, her family life and of course in her book, now available at Watermark, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several other stores where books are sold.
She cherishes her memories and said it was fun writing them down, but knows not everyone is an endurance athlete. She believes strongly in the three pillars she describes: Develop an explorer’s mindset, use outlier tactics and practice immersion theory. “These will help you win in life. You can look back and say, ‘I did that, and now I can do this.’”
I had to ask her why she does adventures where she has to endure exhaustion, heat, cold, and the pain?
“To go far,” she said smiling with a little shrug.
Reach Bonnie Bing at email@example.com