It’s been a hot and cold, hilly and flat, exhausting, jet-setting journey, but the runners who started their Triple 7 Quest to run seven marathons on seven continents only have one race left to go.
The 35 runners started last Sunday in Melbourne, Australia, and continued on to run marathons in Abu Dhabi, UAE; Paris, France; Tunis, Tunisia; Long Island, New York, and Punta Arenas, Chile. What’s left? King George Island in Antarctica.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been crazy,” Atlanta runner Laura Barnard said. “At one point we ran 78 miles in 30 hours.”
The runners were hoping to complete their seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, but the weather in Antarctica didn’t allow it.
The runners boarded a flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island to start the final race of the quest, but 20 minutes before landing, the pilot told the cabin that visibility wasn’t clear enough to land so the plane went back to Chile.
“We are now awaiting instructions from the base as to what time we can fly back,” Triple 7 Quest organizers wrote on the group Facebook page. Participants knew this was a possibility and several extra days are included in the trip to account for Antarctica’s unpredictable weather.
For the runners, it’s been an emotional experience. “Words can’t justly express what this experience means to me,” Laura Barnard wrote on her Facebook page. “My eyes are weary but my heart is full and my mind is engaged.”
Barnard said that heading into the Long Island, New York marathon, everyone’s ankles and legs were swollen.
“The running, the flying — we’re all hurting,” she said with a laugh.
The best story for Barnard was at a Fat Burger along the course at the Tunis, Tunisia race. “We ordered French Fries and told them we’d come back to eat them on our next loop.”
Barnard is part of a nine-person team running the seven marathons tied together. “Running on a linked team is not like running in any other way. You are so focused on how everyone else is doing,” she said. “Every time you have a bathroom break you stop together. When you’re running you can’t change pace or stride.”
Earlier in the week, runner Kim Pursley wrote on Facebook: “Challenging marathon in Africa today …. I ran a good race up until the last 10 kilometers which would prove extremely difficult and long to finish. But I prevailed and to my surprise took 3rd place among all the female runners in the 26.2. Not bad after running 3 other marathons earlier this week, one on each continent!”
Keep it up team! Just 26.2 left of your 183.4-mile week!