Marathoner extroardinaire Michael Wardian may have claimed the fastest average marathon time (2:45:56) at last week’s World Marathon Challenge, but he isn’t the only participant to achieve a record title. At age 66, Glen Avery became the oldest participant by a couple decades to both attempt and complete running seven marathons on seven different continents in seven days.
How did he do it? You could say that the now retired technology librarian from New York had been training for this grueling event ever since he started running long distances. Since the age of 51, Avery has ran a total 85 marathons and 28 marathons around the world, having ran a marathon on each of the seven continents twice during that time already. For the World Marathon Challenge, though, he would have to accomplish the same feat, except in only a week.
“It’s the kind of challenge where I thought, ‘I want it to be hard enough so I have to really work for it,’ and I want to be able to say I did something just extraordinary but doable,” Avery remarked about his motivation.
Competitor.com had originally spoken with Avery last summer when he first shared his motivations to participate in the 2017 World Marathon Challenge. By then he was in the midst of completing the 23 marathons he would end up running this year, including a four-marathon/four-day series at an altitude of 6,000 feet, as well as the seven-state Appalachian Series, in order to prepare his body and mind for the WMC.
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Along with Avery, 31 other runners also completed the challenge (with one runner having to drop out early due to injury). They ran through a range of varying and extreme environments from Antarctica first, to Puntas Arenas, Chile (South America), then Miami (North America), across the Atlantic to Madrid (Europe), then Marrakech (Africa), on to Dubai (Asia), and finally Sydney, Australia.
“The World Marathon Challenge was the ultimate energy allocation problem,” Avery said about his running strategy in environments ranging from the hostile cold of Antarctica to the 100-degree heat in Dubai. “Those conditions forced me to pace myself and run smart.”
For Avery, though, the most impressive aspect of the race was the supportive network among those 31 runners who ran with him and would shout encouragement to each other as they crossed the finish line.
“The camaraderie during this event was very intense. The main goal for the group was for everyone to finish the Challenge—no matter their time,” Avery explained after completing the challenge. “I feel blessed to have been part of this group of individuals possessing unique and fascinating stories.”