Jenna Fesemyer

Ali on the Run Show Episode 508: Jenna Fesemyer, Team USA Wheelchair Athlete

“Doctors said when I was born that I would be the last one to sit up, the last one to crawl, the last one to stand and walk. Well, I was the first to do all those things.”

Jenna Fesemyer was born with a birth defect called proximal femoral focal deficiency, where one leg is shorter than the other. At one year old, she had her foot amputated. And she immediately defied her doctors’ expectations. As a teenager, she discovered wheelchair racing, and now, she’s a Paralympian who represented Team USA in Tokyo last summer. (The Paralympic marathon was just the beginning of Jenna’s fall marathon season: She then raced the London, Chicago, Boston, and New York City Marathons.) This weekend, Jenna heads to Boston where she will race in the professional women’s wheelchair division in both the B.A.A. 5K on Saturday and the Boston Marathon on Monday. Jenna is sponsored by Oiselle, and she is currently studying education policy at the University of Illinois (and she’ll begin her doctorate program in the fall!).

SPONSOR: Shokz — Use code OTR15 for 15% off wireless headphones.

What you’ll get on this episode:

  • What’s making Jenna happy right now (3:50)
  • All about wheelchair racing and training safety (4:45)
  • Jenna’s plans for Boston Marathon weekend, and why she’s able to race so frequently (7:20)
  • Reflecting on the 2021 Boston Marathon (16:30)
  • All about Jenna’s childhood, and living with proximal femoral focal deficiency (20:10)
  • How Jenna got into wheelchair racing (24:40)
  • Jenna explains her positioning in her chair (32:30)
  • Jenna’s Paralympic dreams, and the choices and sacrifices she has had to make to pursue them (34:20)
  • How Jenna became a Oiselle-sponsored athlete (41:20)
  • What Jenna wishes people understood about adaptive athletes (43:00)
  • How to spot Jenna at the Boston Marathon (51:50)

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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