THEY’RE raising two young sons and he’s juggling full-time work as a real estate agent.
But husband-and-wife Jess and Natalie Densley have still found time to train for their latest distance running challenges.
The athletic couple are putting the finishing touches on their preparations for the Melbourne Marathon Festival of Running on Sunday.
Jess, 36, will attempt his first full marathon, a 42.2-kilometre trek from the MCG to St Kilda and back.
Natalie, 28, is contesting the 21.1-kilometre half-marathon, just seven months after giving birth to a second son, Flynn.
Their hectic schedules have meant training for the arduous tests has become a morning ritual, starting about 5am.
Understandably, both are in awe of each other.
Jess described Natalie’s commitment as “pretty phenomenal”.
“We have a seven-month-old baby and she’s still breastfeeding, yet she’s out at 4am or 5am running every day,” he said.
Likewise, Natalie has similar respect for the time and effort Jess had put in.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without him,” she said.
“He’s been on board with all his training, as well as helping me.”
Jess and Natalie are among more than two dozen runners from the Warrnambool district who are bound for Melbourne.
Jess started running seriously 18 months ago wanting to get fit again, having called time on his football career about five years ago.
He has his sights set on breaking the three-hour mark, a common goal for amateur marathon runners.
“When I decided to do a marathon, I thought if I’m going to do one, I want to do it properly,” he said.
“I’ve put in six months of solid training, a lot of early mornings and lots of kilometres.”
He said the commitment had been worthwhile.
“This is by far the fittest I’ve been. I’ve put a lot into this campaign,” he said.
“I’ve given up on alcohol for the last few months, being really disciplined on what I eat.
“I’m fitter than I was when I was playing footy. It’s been a big goal to do the run.”
Natalie, meanwhile, is the more experienced of the pair.
She played a bit of basketball as a junior before turning her focus to running in her teenage years.
Her running resume includes “quite a few” half-marathons, while she completed her first full marathon at age 23.
“My training has been going pretty well. I’m hoping to do a pretty good time,” she said.
“We’ll see on the day, I suppose, how the body holds up.”
Natalie said she had little trouble getting back into running after the arrival of Flynn, a brother to three-year-old Jack.
“The first time around with my first son I found it hard but this time around it’s been a lot easier,” she said.
“You get out and you have a bit of time for yourself. Jess and I juggle training around each other.
“So anywhere between 5am and 7am, either he’ll go first or I do. It’s been really nice to have something to work towards.”
Meanwhile, four Warrnambool runners are among the field for the gruelling Great Ocean Walk 100-kilometre ultra-marathon tomorrow.
John Keats, Nicole Barker, Clare Weatherly and Michael John will attempt the gruelling off-road race from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles.
Just two people broke the 10-hour mark in 2012.