7 MARATHONS, 7 CONTINENTS, IN 7 DAYS
Patrick Charlebois becomes the first Canadian to finish seven marathons in seven days on seven continents
Let this sink in for a moment: seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. That was the itinerary for competitors of the World Marathon Challenge, which started in Antarctica and concluded in Sydney, Australia. Among the finishers was Trois-Rivières, Que., resident Patrick Charlebois, who averaged 3:14:09 for fourth overall among the 35 official finishers.
“I was happy there was not an eighth continent and eighth marathon when I finished the final race in Sydney,” Charlebois says. No Canadian had ever finished the event in the previous two editions as the 46-year-old broke the existing world record for cumulative time. One problem: three runners were faster.
The globe-trotting event had its most competitive year to date in 2017, with big names including two-time Olympian Ryan Hall and combination racer Michael Wardian, the eventual winner in a rather incredible time of 2:45:56, in the field. The trip – with stops in Antarctica, Chile, the United States, Spain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Australia – has a hefty price tag: $50,000. “It was worth every penny,” he says. Though he received some sponsorship, Charlebois personally funded much of the trip.
Charlebois, who has a 2:40 lifetime best in the marathon, says that he felt better after seven marathons than after just one. As each marathon went by, his confidence grew, apparent in the final results. He broke three hours in Marrakech, Morocco, and went from sixth in Antarctica to second in Africa. “I did not expect to break three hours in any of the marathons,” he says. His pre-competition goal was to finish all seven marathons.
In Miami, Charlebois ran the entire 42.2k with the now-retired Hall, who has a lifetime best of 2:04:58. “Ryan insisted on me crossing the line before him despite it being on his home turf,” Charlebois recalls. World Marathon Challenge participants boarded chartered f lights, with a business class layout, almost immediately after each marathon, leaving little time for recovery. Charlebois relied heavily on protein bars, pasta and fish and tried to stick to a specific protocol his nutritionist laid out. “It was an eating contest,” he says. “It was said that the person who ate the most would win the race. Eating was the key.”
Three-to-four hours per night was considered a “good sleep.” Charlebois didn’t sleep between the marathons in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
Wardian, the now World Marathon Challenge record holder for fastest cumulative time, for example, was able to get in just 16 hours of sleep the entire week. Gear-wise, Charlebois brought a specific pair of shoes for Antarctica and switched out his footwear in the hot climates of northern Africa, Dubai and eastern Australia.
The passionate runner has also completed all six World Marathon Majors: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. His unique running resume begs the question, “what could possibly be next?” Rather than eyeing a new challenge, Charlebois looks to regain balance in his life by making it to his children’s sporting events and spending more time with family.— TH