7 MARATHONS, 7 CON­TI­NENTS, IN 7 DAYS

Pa­trick Charlebois be­comes the first Cana­dian to fin­ish seven marathons in seven days on seven con­ti­nents

Canadian Running - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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