Richard Donovan improved his own 2009 World Record in 2012 to run 7 Marathons on 7 continents within 4 days, 22 hours and 3 minutes. Donovan introduced the World Marathon Challenge in 2015; 9 men and 1 woman took the challenge to run 7 Marathons on 7 continents within 7 days. They all finished within the max of 8 hours per race, but Donovan still holds the World Record.
On January 30, 2018, this challenge of a lifetime will start again in Antarctica. After completing their first Marathon on the ‘Frozen Continent’, 14 women and 37 men will run standard 42.2km (26.2 miles) Marathon distances in Punta Arenas (Chile), Miami (USA), Madrid (Spain), Marrakech (Morocco), Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Sydney (Australia). They will cover will cover 295 km (183 miles) in 7 days.
The 59 hours of flying will be used to refuel and sleep a bit between races.
Carbon emissions from the flights will be offset by the organizers via a payment to CarbonFund.org.
Runners with the fastest combined or average marathon times win and will be recognized as a world record by the Book of Alternative Records.
Current World Records for Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days:
Fastest Average Time (Men) – Michael Wardian (USA) 2:45:57
Fastest Average Time (Women) – Becca Pizzi (USA) 3:55:11
Fastest Duration (Men) – Richard Donovan (IRE) 4 days 22 hours 3 minutes
Fastest Duration (Women) – Guoping Xie (CHN) 6 days 8 hours 30 minutes
All finishers will be eligible to join both the 7 Continents Marathon Club and the exclusive Intercontinental Marathon Club, reserved for athletes who have run 7 Marathons on 7 Continents within 7 Days.
The entry fee is EUR €36,000 (€35,000 if paying in full upon registration).
If you think this is only for the rich, think twice:
When Becca Pizzi prepared for the World Marathon Challenge in 2016, she was a single mom, working seven days a week and training running groups as well. She nevertheless found time to run up to 30 hours a week.
When Pizzi heard about the Challenge in January 2015, she set her mind to it.
She saved the entree fee from her two jobs to cover the costs of the Challenge and did all the training needed to survive this journey through the coldest and hottest places on earth.
How to train to run 7 marathons in one week
Becca Pizzi’s training schedule was rigorous. On a typical day, she led a track workout at 5 a.m. with her running club. At 6:30 she was on her way to the ice-cream shop to do inventory and other administrative work, then headed home to shower and get her daughter ready for school by 8:30. She then ran the day-care center from 9 am to 4 pm. At 4:30 it was time for her daughter’s dance class in a gym where Pizzi would work out with her personal trainer, or she’d do CrossFit or a yoga class. Or, she would go for another run.
“I had a base of 45 marathons going into this event and I knew that being from New England, I had trained in all types of weather conditions, so I knew the weather wouldn’t be a factor for me. I made a training plan and just kind of stuck by my training plan of running between 70 and 100 miles per week, on top of personal training, yoga for runners, CrossFit. So I put in the work for the year,” Becca said.
Glen Avery started running at 51 and has been unstoppable ever since. At age 66 he has completed 90 marathons and 25 ultramarathons, including the World Marathon Challenge in 2016. He trained every other day and ran 23 marathons last year to prepare for the race.
He is the oldest finisher of the challenge so far.
“What I found interesting was the jet lag was not really a problem because we were either sleeping or we were running, and so our brains were constantly thinking in terms of sleeping and running, not Oh, where am I in the world in terms of time zones? So I sort of missed the jet lag factor,” Glen says.
What drives people to run a race like this?
“… I think it will be inspiring and something that people can kind of relate to, at least from the point of view of the interest in running in some of the most iconic cities and some of the best marathons in the world,” says Michael Wardian, the winner of 2017.
Sinead Kane from Ireland inspired many people when she completed the World Marathon Challenge as the first blind female in 2017 and is asked to share her experience in presentations.
Heather Hawkins was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. After recovery she decided to make the most of life and enjoy courageous adventures, like this race of a lifetime.
BethAnn Telford from the USA, was running with brain cancer, and reportedly raised over $1 million for the foundation ABC2 (Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure).
Telford completed the race but she’s not done yet: “My finish line isn’t sitting at the end of the line of this big, epic event. My finish line is when someone announces there is a cure.” she said.
Don’t give up…Don’t ever give up!
Tim Durbin was one of ten participants and finishers of the first World Marathon Challenge in 2015.
“The overall winner weighed 270-plus pounds 20 years ago. He is now a sub-3-hour marathoner,” says Durbin.
“The guy who finished second had a non-cancerous brain tumor removed less than 18 months ago.
Another competitor hasn’t had a drink in 17 years and raised over $200,000 to support MS, which his wife was diagnosed with.
Meeting these types of people inspire me that anything is possible.”
Tim is on his way to running 24.901 miles around the globe within 10 years.
With his runs he raises money to support the V Foundation with their cancer research.
Inspired by the final speech of Jim Valvano, founder of the V Foundation, Tim’s motto “Don’t give up…Don’t ever give up!” keeps him going.
The next 7-day World Marathon Challenge is scheduled to begin on 30 January 2019.
Do you have what it takes?
Most running adventures take months of preparation. Your next running goal might not be the World Marathon Challenge, but you still need to be ultra-excited about it and willing to put in lots of time, effort, commitment and sometimes also money.
It takes good planning and training to stretch yourself without overdoing it. After all these months of devotion you want to show up fit and strong at the start line, right?
Still, the ultimate preparation is no guarantee for success. That’s what makes it an adventure!
Now if you wonder or you got what it takes, the best way to find out is to pick a race that scares you…
but you wanna do it anyway.
A race that excites you so much that you love to put in whatever it takes.
Sign up to stay up to date of running adventures in 2018 and get ideas for your bucket list!
Resources/further reading and watching:
How Becca Pizzi won the World Marathon Challenge 2016
The oldest man who completed the World Marathon Challenge
World Marathon Challenge Video
Also published on Medium.