Jill Kristin Bell Bio

Jill Kristin Bell

Athlete: Jill Kristin (Gunkel) Bell

Lives City/State: Kenosha, WI

Go to Orange Mud Gear: VP2

Primary Sport: Trail / Ultra Running

What sports do you participate in?

Running (whether road or trail, but I prefer trail) & every distance up to 100K so far! Swimming & cycling!

What is your favorite race food?

Coca Cola to drink . . . fully loaded baked potato soup as an ultra food. [My first 50 miler got me hooked on this!]

What is your go to hydration mix?

Tailwind . . . with sometimes a little Monster added in.

Do you have a major quirk you’d like to share?

I prefer to run alone (or just with my dogs) when I’m training . . . I’ve found that by getting really comfortable being by myself on my long training runs then when I’m alone on a big race (50+ miles) that I’m able to better manage my own thoughts.

If you were relate to an animal, what would it be?

My nickname is Chilly Willy so I’ve always had a love for penguins, but on the trails I relate most to the fox.

If a newbie to your sport asked for one piece of advice, what would it be?

Think positive. No matter what you are doing! The moment that you let a negative thought come in – you are setting yourself up for trouble. Always find the positive then when things really start to go bad – you don’t feel as bad.

Do you have any racing pet peeves?

Littering . . . I love running the trails for the untouched beauty – trash just takes away from it.

What do you do for fun?

If you are asking my family they would say obviously running. To me although I love running & hiking trails all year long, in my down time I love watching old, classic black & white movies & / or hanging with my friends & family. 

What is your post race ritual?

Food – burgers or pizza & a really nice stout!

How long have you been running?

Serious running (where I actually trained for races) just started in 2014 (my year of half marathons) . . . but before that I did participate in Track & Field & soccer in high school.

Why do you enjoy the sport? 

I love this sport, because there aren’t any limits besides the ones that you put on yourself.

What's your favorite trail race?

Oh that’s a tough one . . . So far I have 3 . . . North Country Trail Run in Michigan, Potawatomi / McNaughton Trail Run in Illinois, & Tunnel Hill in Illinois.

What's your favorite local trail?

I love the Des Plaines River Trail

What's your go to piece of Orange Mud gear and why?

Vest Pack 2 . . . it was my entry OM gear, because I needed something for my year of marathons (2015) & I didn’t like the other vests. I wanted gear that was comfortable & flexible for my needs. I use the VP2 all year long & for every distance! It is the pack that to me is the most versatile & I always encourage it to be the first one that anyone considers getting for themselves.

Profession and educational background?

Undergraduate: Biology / Chemistry major at Monmouth College, Graduate: MBA with a focus in International Business at Marquette University . . . I’m a certified Project Manager via Project Management Institute (PMI) & I have several Quality certifications via American Society for Quality (ASQ). My career has ranged from being a Scientist working on Prostate Cancer to a Six Sigma Black Belt working in the Gaming Industry. Currently, I have gone back to being a Program Manager within the Gaming Industry.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport? 

2016 was my first year of ultras . . . I ran my first 50 miler in April 2016 & my second one in November 2016 where I PR’ed from my first by over 7 hours!

Do you have a set training schedule and if so, what's it like?

I do have a set schedule . . . I train starting the first of the year for ~45 weeks. During this time I have a training plan that I follow to get me in shape for my target race. The 2017 target race that will be closing out my training season is expected to be a 100 miler.

What's your dream race?

I want to do the World Marathons . . . 7 marathons within 7 days each taking place on a different continent.

Favorite book for athletes?

Fixing Your Feet

Do you listen to audiobooks or music during exercise?

Both . . . my music ranges from classical to metal. Audiobooks range from fiction to non-fiction depending on my mood. For Podcasts I love Ten Junk Miles & Pace Per Mile.

What advice would you give to a new runner coming into the sport? 

Be patient & kind with yourself.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My bestie. He is absolutely amazing & doesn’t have the word quit in his vocabulary. He is one of the few Spartan Death Race finishers & is my inspiration each & every day!

Have you struggled with any injuries? How do you manage them? 

I’ve struggled with blisters . . . trial & error is how I’ve had to manage them & reading Fixing Your Feet. I’m hoping that after I take a break from this season that I will have resolved the issue of developing blisters on top of blisters by giving my feet enough time to heal.

Anything else you’d like to share? 

The ultra running community is awesome! Never be afraid to ask a question . . . we have all had different experiences & we are all willing to help where we can.

What was the best advice you were ever given? 

Trust your training.

What is your favorite local running or biking store?

Zion Cyclery

What blogs and social profiles would you like us to feature here?

IG: jkgunkel

FB: Jill Kristin

Twitter: jillkbell