Eagle River’s Jordyn Bruce has been a trailblazer since she first started competing in track and field.
Now a professional athlete for Lululemon, Bruce has continued to forge her path, taking part in the inaugural edition of the women’s indoor heptathlon held in France where she placed runner-up and set the unofficial American record in the event.
At the collegiate and professional levels, most multi-event athletes compete in the decathlon or heptathlon during the outdoor season, while the indoor season consists of the heptathlon or pentathlon.
Women have historically competed in the seven- and five-event disciplines; however, a recent resurgence in the longer events has allowed for some gender parity. At the Olympic level, the outdoor heptathlon replaced the women’s pentathlon in 1984, while the pole vault was not featured as a women’s Olympic event until 2000.
After promoting and hosting the open decathlon last summer, France was eager to host an indoor heptathlon for women, as a part of the World Athletics Combined Events Tour.
Bruce, along with five other competitors, lined up for the first of seven events in the X-Athletics program. The field consisted of four French athletes, three of whom have previously competed in the decathlon along with American compatriot, Lauren Kuntz, the world record holder in the icosathlon (double decathlon).
Bruce, a former Eagle River High and Illinois State standout, got off to an impeccable start, making her debut in the 60-meter dash and registering a time of 7.86 seconds to place runner-up.
In the long jump, she sailed to 17 feet, 0.5 inches to take fifth, before placing third in the shot put, throwing 35 feet, 8.75 inches and clearing 5 feet, 4.5 inches for runner-up in the high jump.
When you’re far from home, but your competitors have got your back 🇺🇸 🇫🇷
Jordyn Bruce makes her 3rd attempt at 1.64m in the hep with a little help from Adeline Audigier pic.twitter.com/jNMxBo8NyU
— Decathletes of Europe (@DecathletesOfEu) January 27, 2024
While Bruce experienced some ankle discomfort in the long jump, resulting in only one attempt, she rebounded with a commendable clearance in the high jump after seeking assistance from the athletic training staff.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from my body,” said Bruce. “But I trusted its resilience and came away with the best jumps (in high jump) I’ve had in years.”
By the end of day one, Bruce was in third — 387 points from the leader and 188 points behind second place.
Bruce kicked off the second day with a strong showing in the 60-meter hurdles, placing runner-up in 8.65 seconds to finish 0.05 seconds outside her personal best.
She continued to the pole vault where she flourished, placing third after clearing 10 feet, 6.25 inches to reach the highest known mark by an Alaskan woman in competition, and just ahead of Salcha’s Teslin Brannan who recently cleared 10-6 to set a state best among prep athletes at The Dome.
Bruce contributes her success in the pole vault to her training, after practicing with larger poles since she picked up the event last summer. And while she cleared 11-2 in the warm-up, her mark was still a personal best.
In the final event, Bruce ran fearlessly, placing runner-up in her 1,000-meter debut and recording even splits throughout the race. She stopped the clock at 3 minutes, 14.02 seconds to close out the competition.
In the end, Bruce finished runner-up with a total of 5,226 points and set an unofficial American record in the indoor heptathlon, as World Athletics has yet to ratify the event. France’s Noémi Desailly took top honors, with 5,761 points, while Adeline Audigier placed third with 5,045 points.
“I’m incredibly humbled and proud to not only be a part of the first women’s indoor heptathlon but to set the unofficial American record in the process,” said Bruce. “The meet was not perfect in terms of my performance, so to know there’s so much room for growth makes me want to get right back to training.”
The camaraderie among multi-event athletes is unlike any other — focused during competition while cheering on one another in between events and throughout the field events. After all was said and done, the hexad took photos together and embraced on the podium.
“I love competing with these girls,” Bruce told Decathletes of Europe. “All multis have such a great personality and raise each other up — it’s really phenomenal.”
Beyond the competition, Bruce hopes more countries are drawn to participate in the indoor heptathlon and decathlon, in addition to younger generations of girls and women.
“My goal since continuing with professional track has been to show younger athletes that there are no limits,” said Bruce. “I had several young athletes approach me expressing how they, too, will train to become the future of women’s heptathlon/decathlon now that they have seen the path paved.”
While her indoor season may have concluded, Bruce has aspiring goals for the upcoming outdoor season, with plans of opening her season in March, followed by a heptathlon in California in April.
“My overarching goal is to qualify for Olympic Trials this summer, and place at the Decathlon World Championships in Ohio in early August,” said Bruce.