Fort St. John Snowshoe racer representing Canada in South Korea

On January 24, Jakubowski will travel 11 hours to South Korea, where over the week-long span of the games she will compete in various snowshoe racing events, including the 1600 metre and 800 metre individual distances, the two races she feels will be the most challenging, along with a 4 X 100 relay race, in which she will run in the third position.

Qualifying for the world-wide competition wasn’t an easy task to accomplish, as competitors must earn high scores at their respective nationals to gain entrance. Luckily for Jakubowski, a bronze medal in the 1600 metre event and gold medals in both the 800 and 400 metre distances earned the Peace Region athlete a chance to represent her country.

She says competing at nationals was great preparation for South Korea, as it put her against her stiffest competition yet.

It’s an exciting trip for the athlete, who will not only be experiencing Korea for the first time, but will be competing in her first Special Olympics World Games.

In preparation for this monumental competition, Jakubowski has been training three times a week in Fort St. John, setting up her own racing track in Mathews Park, where she can simulate a competitive race track. She says along with practicing on an actual track, the park provides some unexpected training obstacles as well.

"I ended up getting chased by a moose through the park. We didn’t think it would come after me, and my coach told me to keep going, and yeah, it came after me."

Jakubowski says that she can use that experience as motivation and that if she is ever trailing in a race, she can just imagine that moose chasing her to help improve her speed.

Physically, she says she is healthy entering the competition, but that keeping free of sickness is tough with the constant outdoor training she puts her body through. However, she says lots of sleep, a balanced diet and an ample supply of green tea has provided her with top notch health.

The snowshoe racer has also trained in Canmore, Alberta, to help simulate the thinner air of PyeongChang, due to the much higher elevation of the mountainous region.

"We are higher up in the mountains, which is why we went to Canmore to do more training. So that way we know what the air is going to be like, which is the reason we are going there a bit earlier, to get used to the different air. It’s harder to run when you’re not use to certain air."

Jakubowski adds that will be a more challenging aspect of the race to overcome than the actual physical act of showshoeing.

She also says another challenge will be maintaining her regimented diet while in Korea, saying the addition of much spicier foods is something she also has to prepare for.

However, all the factors leading up to her races won’t deter Jakubowski from achieving her set goals.

"I’m aiming to bring some golds back, or a gold and a silver, or at least a bronze. I just want to bring a medal back for Canada."

She adds that winning a medal for her country would be great, but the real victory would be bringing a medal back to show her hometown supporters.

Jakubowski says that hometown motivation helps fuel her competitive fire.

"I’ve got the city of Fort St. John behind me…When I see people at the track, I know I can’t let them down, so when I’m racing, I speed up. People cheering me on, that makes me go faster, and it makes me not want to stop, because I keep telling myself, yes there are people behind you watching, you can’t slow down now."

Opening ceremonies for the 2013 for Special Olympics World Games will be held January 29, with the competition running until February 5.