A little over a year ago, I did a solo event where I ran 6 marathon distances on 6 continents in just under 5 days. It turns out that I only had written posts about a few of those runs and now am going to pick up where I left off (as I discussed in this post). Many people had asked about what it was like to run over 150 miles in a short amount of time while also traveling to 6 different continents. Here are some of my thoughts on doing this event.
What It’s Like to Run 157 Miles on 6 Continents in 5 Days
This was actually not the first time I had done something like this. Several years before, I tried it but missed out on Africa (Egypt) because the roads were a mess and my time I had alloted for there was too small. So, yes, poor planning on my part! But, I had done the whole thing that time in coach which was very, very difficult!
This time around, I picked better flights, scouted a few of the sites, and did the whole thing in business/first class. That last part definitely made it easier, well, sort of! 🙂
These may sound like no-brainers but I will take you through each part of it!
It Is Mentally Challenging
I could plan for the physical parts of the run (and I did). I ran multiple 100+ mile weeks in the heat to prepare for the tougher parts of the run and ran at all hours of the day and night to get my body ready for this challenge. The physical part could be dealt with.
The mental part is hard to prepare for. I mean, I would literally be sleeping only on airplanes and running 26.2 miles on 6 continents in less than 5 days. The travel part of that alone can be difficult! Add in the running and the mental challenges grow.
Probably the toughest part, mentally, was dealing with what still lay ahead. It was very comforting to complete the 3rd marathon run (in Abu Dhabi). Not only did it mean I was half way done but it was also the most difficult half (3 marathon distances on 3 continents in less than 36 hours). I had to take it one mile at a time or else it became very overwhelming.
There were a couple of times when the flight schedule became an issue and I would begin to get really anxious about it while I was running. In a way, thinking about flight issues actually helped me in my run because it gave me something to focus on that was outside of my control. It also helped me to push a little harder and have a distraction.
One time, in Sydney, I actually had a slight pain in my lower leg. It was the one and only time I dealt with anything close to an injury so I was very thankful! But, it is incredibly difficult, mentally, to deal with something like that thinking that it could end your adventure early.
It is Physically Challenging
Of course! 🙂 But, yes, the physical aspect is quite difficult. I had run multiple 20+ mile runs in a row to prepare for it but it is still something to toe an imaginary starting line and know that you will have to run the same distance 6 different times – on 6 different continents.
I took the first one easy even though the adrenaline rush made me want to push. Speed was never a goal of this event. I knew I would not be running anything under 4 hours since this was not a race (solo event) and I only had to make sure I made each flight! The first 2 were done at more moderate paces since I knew the toughest one would be in Abu Dhabi with 108 degree weather and high humidity when the sun went down. Plus, the time would be tighter there.
I had prepared for running on tired legs but still, starting the first couple of miles each time was a bit of a chore! Once I got moving, it was ok.
The Weather Was Challenging
This was something that I also knew about ahead of time. I was in the northern and southern hemisphere so of course would deal with varying weather conditions. It went from 40 degrees (F) to 108 degrees (F)! Plus, humidity was low and very high in the various locations. I also had to deal with sun, darkness, and rain – fortunately, no snow! 🙂
It Was Lonely
Traveling alone can be a different thing anyway but when you are becoming depleted, physically, at each location, it can make the loneliness seem even more severe. It was nice to run into some people that had actually heard about my event and to have them wish me good luck as well as dealing with the various Hyatt staff members who were incredibly supportive of my event.
Still, it is really a lonely feeling when you reach an imaginary finish line (just finishing a minimum of 26.2 miles) and you do not have the fanfare of the crowds at regular marathons. Just a rush to grab the bags and rush back to the airport to get on a plane and do it all over again!
It Was Confusing
I have done a fair amount of travel to a bunch of countries in my life but I knew that it would be easy to forget things along this complicated journey so really leaned on my TripIt Pro to keep me on track.
I am glad I did! I forgot what country I was in a couple of times! 🙂 I also forgot where I was going next and things like when I had last eaten. Taking notes, even mentally, was important to stay aware of where I was and where I needed to go next.
It Was Exhilarating
Even with all the flights, miles, countries, exhaustion, close-calls with flight schedules, and more, there was just something exhilarating about finishing marathon run 1, then 2, and so on. Knowing that the great hobby of miles and points was enabling me to do something many people dream of – visiting 6 continents – and running in each of those locations was fantastic. Even though it was exhausting, I still got to experience quite a bit of the cities (Thessaloniki, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, Santiago, Washington, DC – not Cairo since I was on a treadmill) as I ran 26.2 miles through their streets.
It was an absolute blast to run the last leg with General Glenn (from Military Frequent Flyer) on the route of the Marine Corps Marathon through Washington, DC and the surrounding area. The charity I had selected for this run was the Wounded Warrior Project so being able to run past so many memorials and on the streets of the Marine Corps Marathon before finishing up at the Marine Corps Memorial was just unbelievable. Imagine the most exhausted you have ever been and remember how emotional you may have been. That is what I felt like and there is really no way to recreate such a feeling – unless I do it again. 🙂
All in all, it was a fantastic, exhausting journey and one which I was very thankful I was able to complete. Please follow along as I finish writing up the various segments of this exciting adventure and take you to the streets of these wonderful cities with me! 🙂