Two Canadians heading to this year’s World Marathon Challenge

Two Canadians are among the group of 40 men and women heading to Antarctica later this month for the first of seven marathons on seven continents in seven days

January 21st, 2019 by | Posted in Runs & Races | Tags: , , ,

Mark Hamlin, 50, of Toronto and Shirley Parry, 54, a Canadian living in Rancho Palos Verdes, California don’t know each other yet, but a few days from now they will share an experience only a few can claim: to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. The two Canadian are among 40 individuals heading to Antarctica for the first leg of the World Marathon Challenge, which gets underway January 31 with what is almost certainly the most difficult race of the seven. 

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Hamlin and Parry are the only Canadians in a field of 40 people involved in this year’s challenge, which also includes American runner Mike Wardian, 44, of Arlington, Virginia. Wardian will do the challenge fresh off Hawaii’s HURT 100, which started two days ago and in which Wardian finished 10th, in 26:57:37. Wardian won the WMC in 2017, and holds the world record for the fastest average time of any finisher (2:45:57).

Seventy-seven men and 26 women have completed the challenge since it was first held in 2015.

Here’s how the week plays out: the first marathon takes place in Novo, Antarctica on January 31. On each of the following six days, participants run a marathon in Cape Town, then Perth, Dubai, Madrid, and Santiago, finishing with in Miami on February 6. They will spend approximately 63 hours in the air, flying by chartered plane to their next race, during this one-week period. 

According to the site’s bio, Hamlin started running 10 years ago when a friend (Christopher Jonns of Great Britain, who is also doing the challenge this year) signed him up for the New York City Marathon against his will. He has since run seven marathons, two 50-mile trail ultras, three Ironman triathlons, and the Atacama Crossing, a 150-mile (240K) self-supported desert race in Chile. 

Parry is running to raise money and awareness for Los Angeles’ Orthopaedic Institute for Children, which helps children with traumatic orthopedic injuries or musculoskeletal conditions like cerebral palsy and scoliosis. And in the spirit of the 7-7-7 marathons, Parry has made it her goal to raise $77,700 USD for the cause. Parry started running seven years ago and has completed 16 marathons. 

Becca Pizzi, 37, of Belmont, Mass. has won the WMC twice, in 2016 and again in 2018. She holds the world record for the fastest average finish time by a woman (3:55:11).

In 2017, Sinead Kane of Ireland became the first visually impaired athlete to complete the challenge.

Past WMC finishers include Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray (2018), who underwent heart bypass surgery in October, and US marathoner Ryan Hall (2017). 

The entry fee for the WMC is 35,000 euros (approximately $40,000 USD).