Canadian Adventurer. Global Explorer. Jen Segger is a household name in Squamish, a name synonymous with tenacity, strength, and of course, adventure.
Speaking her name conjures up images of colourful trail runners caked in dirt, heavy packs laden with enough food and gear to last for days. The astonishment sets in when you see her list of achievements and understand what kind of athlete she really is.
Surely, this woman has dominated more than most of us can even dream about, but the adventure most on her mind today is parenthood.
Segger’s racing days began after seeing the Eco-Challenge Race on television in university. It featured teams of four competing in a multi-day expedition length adventure race. She decided then that she wanted to be one of the top women in the sport.
“Adventure racing is very much about being able to suffer. I have been blessed with this ability to be uncomfortable day after day and I just love the challenge,” she says.
Jen’s adventures are as varied and extreme as the terrain she conquers. She began racing in 2003, and devoted almost all her time and energy in the pursuit of her athletic goals.
Her 2016 race results prove that the birth of her son, Kiel, three years ago hasn’t deterred her from training, competing, and pushing herself.
2016 Race Results
-1st Winter Fat Bike Crossing on Baffin Island (5 days, -50C)
-1st Mountain Bike Crossing of the Atacama Desert in Chile (12 days, +50C)
-2nd (women) Nimble Bear 50km (Kelowna, BC)
-2nd (women overall, 1st AG) Oliver 70.3 Triathlon (Oliver, BC)
-Fastest Known Time – West Coast Trail (75km, Vancouver Island) (women’s record 13hrs 44mins)
-Fastest Known Time – The Golden Hinde (Vancouver Island) (19hrs 32mins)
-1st (women) Grand Traverse Double (Crested Butte, CO)
Becoming a Mother
“I don’t believe that just because you get older or just because you have children that you stop pursuing your passions,” Segger declares.
We never had a child with the expectation that we were going to stop doing the things we love. We’re finding ways to bring him with us to teach him. Yes, it’s a challenge, but we’re really enjoying that.”
Getting Creative with Training
She accepts that finding the time to train for her own pursuits can be difficult but it has only pushed her to be more creative with her workouts and her schedule.
“It’s just different where I’m at in my life right now. Being a parent is the number one priority. I can’t even imagine a life without Kiel and I’m just so excited to keep showing him these adventures.”
A camperized Sprinter van makes it easier for her, her partner Norm Hann, and three year old Kiel, to travel on the road together. Norm is also an endurance athlete and guide. So whether it is for races, expeditions, or recreation, the family spends quite a few nights on the road or at trailheads together throughout the year.
Motivation to train so hard and so consistently comes from many different sources, and it definitely can change over the span of an athlete’s career.
“When I was younger, it was the finish line. Now, it’s always the journey.
I’m seeing that life is going by way too fast now and I’m asking what is the point of setting these goals if it is not about the process of getting there.”
Jen also finds that much of her motivation comes from being around people who are also striving to challenge themselves. “There are so many women here who are so badass! I can even just look at my friend circle and a lot of them are moms my age, ripping on a bike and working full time. Everyone is just doing the best they can to live life to the fullest and that is motivating!” she exclaims.
“My athletic career in endurance sports has always been the backbone for everything I do,” says Jen. She has been coaching for over ten years and is able to draw on her vast experiences from her own professional athletic career and her experience coaching others.
Most of her coaching takes place online, allowing Segger to connect with clients who live anywhere in the world and also allowing her to work remotely and travel the world herself. “I can be anywhere for it, preparing people for their races,” she explains.
She finds training and connecting with athletes is extremely rewarding. “Sunday nights I am on the edge of my seat and nearly in tears waiting for everyone’s race data from the weekend. I get to live through it with people. It’s a pretty rewarding career,” declares Segger.
To enhance training opportunities Segger opened RIM Cycling Studio, Squamish’s first dedicated indoor spin facility. RIM encourages people to participate in endurance cycling regardless of their starting fitness level. And although there are a significant number of high-performance athletes in Squamish, that doesn’t mean everyone must be an elite athlete or that facilities should only cater to that level.
She would personally like to see the stigma of the ‘Squamish hardcore athlete’ dissolve because of the intimidating limits it can place on some people.
The Race Director
After directing the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race (lovingly known as MOMAR) for four years, she took over the Loop the Lakes race. She recognizes the effort it takes to put on a great event. “It’s not just about that one day. It is a full year of coordinating and preparation,” she says.
Her races and events carry the same inclusive atmosphere as her coaching does. “You don’t put these events on for the elite. It’s about the 90 percent of people who are out there purely to challenge themselves. That’s really what it’s all about.”
More recently, Jen co-founded Run Squamish, a not-for-profit running series. With the tagline run by the community for the community, the organization has already given back through its Grant and Scholarship Program.
The Squamish Local
“This is such the perfect place to raise a family and give opportunities to our son while pursuing opportunities for our own personal growth,” Segger acknowledges.
She’s lived in Squamish for nearly a decade and still feels grateful every day for her surroundings. “I love our small community feel, even though we have the amenities of a big city close by.
I love always seeing people I know,” Segger says.
Of course, Segger has also seen the incredible changes in Squamish in terms of development and increasing demographics, but it doesn’t bother her too much. “Change is a good thing and we just have to keep progressing. There are so many awesome people in this town and now there are a lot of great new ideas.
I am so proud to call Squamish home when I’m on the road. There is such a sense of pride for Squamish and people get it now.”
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I call this place home. Strengthening the core as our upcoming winter expedition draws near with a paddle down the Squamish River. I don't get to play as often as I'd like with my best friend @normhann so when I do, it's always special. ———— #welivewater #squamishchief #squamishisawesome #ilovebc #explorebc @boardworkssurfsup @kokatatusa @nikkirekmansales @tourismsquamish @icebreakernz PC: 📷 @normhann
This will continue to be a busy year for Jen as she competes in the Run Rabbit Run 100 mile race in September, in Colorado. In November, she and her family will fly to Australia to compete in the Adventure Racing World Championships, a 600 km unsupported journey involving trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and navigation.
Winter will be a time to rebuild the body, get stronger and enjoy some down time. This includes going back to school for nutrition so she can offer holistic sports nutrition counselling to her clients.
Whether it is pursuing athletics, coaching, race directing or parenting, living a full life is vital to Segger.
“If I can lead by example, in terms of setting goals and being the best version of myself I can be, then that is all that’s important. I want to make sure I am being a good role model to Kiel most of all,” she says and also notes the importance of getting far into the hills.
The alpine is where I recharge and get inspired. I come back as a better mom, a better partner, a better person.”