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March 05, 2020

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7 Marathons, 7 Continents, 7 Days

RADrabbit Jessica Jones completed The 2020 World Marathon Challenge! Give her recap a read!!

There was sort of a theme for this adventure around the globe – “that didn’t go as planned”. It was 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 consecutive days. What could possibly go wrong? Ultimately, not too much. To remove any suspense… I finished the event as 2ndplace female which was 2ndoverall!! With the 4thfastest time ever for a woman, and the fastest masters woman ever. There is no world record for this event for over 40, but if there were, I’d totally own it! 😉

Race #1 – February 6th, Cape Town, Africa. 3:19:00. 2ndfemale, 5thoverall.  So much energy at the start of the first race! Kristina, the professional Danish runner and I took off hard. Crazy hard! We were testing each other out. I decided I needed to save my legs. Not PR on the first race. So, I settled into a more reasonable pace. It ended up being just trying to hang on, which I did successfully and finished feeling “okay”. I certainly ran harder in that first race than I had wanted (“not as planned”). At least I was able to enjoy the amenities of a hotel for one more night!

Race #2 – February 7th, Novolazarevskaya, Antarctica. 4:24:02. 2ndfemale, 5thoverall. This whole race was a “not as planned”. The charter 757 couldn’t land on the frozen continent, so the race director found a Russian cargo plane and crew to get us in. When we landed in Antarctica, the weather was colder than predicted, and with gale force winds. They modified the course so that we did more laps around the runway to keep us from having to run into the wind for too long each lap. When we got to the start, there was (thankfully) no waiting. Just started racing. Finding a good track to run was tough. Near the blue ice was less soft, but a wrong step and you're sliding. Further away was less of a slip risk, but a lot like running in loose sand. I settled into a track and felt okay, but the wind was relentless. I have to say, despite the weather, Antarctica was stunningly beautiful!!!

Race #3 – February 9th, Perth, Australia. 3:16:55. 1stfemale, 4thoverall. We flew back from Novo to Cape Town and had less than an hour to get to the hotel, check out, and get back to the airport. Thankfully, I was able to sleep most of the time on the long flight out of Cape Town. Once to the race site, we had just a short time before the start. The weather was great! And, this was a beautiful course along a river. A group of us ran as a pack initially. At about halfway, I pulled away feeling strong and looking for the lead. Held on, feeling strong for a win!! And, even better, the Aussies had made a full breakfast buffet for us!

Race #4 – February 10th, Dubai, Asia. 3:19:22. 2ndfemale, 5thoverall. At this point, we were a little behind schedule and it was starting to look tight to be able to get to Miami in time for everyone to finish in the 168 hours (7 days). So, not long after we got to the race site, it was go time! The same pack of us than ran together the first half of the last race lined up and ran the concrete path between the rubber and faux wood paths. It was fun working with the pack. Except, this night as we traded leads, no one could seem to keep us at a steady pace except for me. So, I ended up doing a lot of the work. I was able to keep a solid pace until I hit a wall around mile 23. Legs started to tighten up. I guess that early work was showing! Just held on for the last few miles as I got passed up by most of the pack. Definitely “not as planned”!

Race #5 – February 11th, Madrid, Europe. 3:23:19. 2ndfemale, 4thoverall. I managed to sleep most of the way from Dubai to Madrid. This time we were on a Formula 1 race track at night, under the lights. Super cool! It was perfect running weather. For the first time, my legs were a bit sore at the start (I consider that a win!). I started out with the same pack as the previous few races. It became apparent quickly that I was not as strong a hill runner as the others. That’s right. There are hills on a F1 track. I decided I just needed to run my race and settled into a good rhythm. I felt good as I maintained effort (but not pace) on the hills.

 

Race #6 – February 12th, Fortaleza, South America. 3:38:26. 2ndfemale, 2ndoverall. This was our first realdaytime race. I loved it! Reminded me of home (hot and humid southern Alabama)! Planned to run with the pack again, but the pack quickly dissolved. There was water at each end of the loop and ice-water soaked sponges in the middle (near the aid station), so you could get them twice. That really helped keep the heat at bay. Regardless, just like any hot race, I had a difficult time getting in enough nutrition. Around mile 16, another wall (though, in the grand scheme of things, hitting the wall twice in six marathons isn’t terrible). My hamstring started to cramp. I’ve never cramped in a race before and was scared that if I pushed too hard, I might not be able to finish. Definitely “not as planned”.  I took in as much electrolyte fluid as I could and some pickle juice. Was able to get back to a solid pace off-and-on for the last few miles.

Race #7 – February 13th, Miami, North America. 3:32:05. 2ndfemale, 2ndoverall. The shortest turn-around time of the entire week was between these final two races. After the cramps and having to back down the last bit of the Brazil race, I was ready to race at home in the US! Heading onto the plane was the first time my legs reallyfelt the effort. We got our pre-race instructions on the bus! Once we got off the bus, there was a little time to greet friends and family that came to cheer us on (both of my parents were there!). Then, it was time to go! It took a mile or so for my legs to loosen up. They felt heavy, as expected. But, I kept pushing at a comfortably hard pace, and was in the overall lead! I felt good, confident that my legs were going to hold out for this race. And, they did. There was some confusion on the course, which caused me to lose the lead (most definitely “not as planned”). But, I pushed on across the finish line.  7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents!! I had just finished the 2020 World Marathon Challenge!!! And as 2ndoverall!! Pretty epic.

 


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