Ultra runner Jo Brischetto was on Thursday awarded the Blue Mountains Sportsperson of the Year for her commitment to developing the next generation of trail runners and paving the way for women entering the ultra-running community.
The 36-year-old from Woodford was humbled and grateful to receive the award, saying, “It’s really taken me by surprise. I don’t consider myself a sportsperson, I just run because I love it.”
Brischetto co-founded Summit Sisters four years ago, a group designed to increase female participation in trail running with a focus on developing a healthy relationship with the outdoors.
At that time there were few women tackling the trails.
“There was a lack of community and confidence [to run in the bush] so I decided to form a community and build confidence around the sport,” she said.
Summit Sisters has taken off, with a few hundred members in the Blue Mountains, and it’s now operating as a not-for-profit organisation.
“Trail running is more than a physical sport, it’s social, mental and a great stress relief,” Brischetto said.
Last March Brischetto was the fifth woman to cross the line in the challenging 45km Six Foot Track Marathon in 4 hours 24 minutes.
This year she’d like to knock 10 minutes off that time, and in April she’ll tackle the 100km team of four Oxfam Trailwalker event in Victoria, hoping to break the team’s record of 12 hours set at last year’s event. They were the first all-female team home and second overall.
But Brischetto says since last year, she’s been more focused on coaching runners of all abilities, joining Brendan Davies’ Up Coaching business.
"Since 2016 I took the leap into becoming a running coach. I love to be part of other people’s journey and helping them achieve,” she said.
“I love to encourage other women to realise what they are capable of. People don’t believe in themselves any more. I get a huge kick out of that [helping others].”
She is also encouraging the next generation of trail runners through her co-founding of Trail Kids, a business specifically aimed at encouraging children to be more active and enjoy the outdoors.