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7 Continents, 7 Half-Marathons, 7 Days: The Amazing Race of Running

Casey and her friend, Kamika, who originally mentioned the Quest to her. "We'll either be best friends after this or never talk to each other again," she says.
Casey and her friend, Kamika, who originally mentioned the Quest to her. "We'll either be best friends after this or never talk to each other again," she says. (Photo from Crazy Girl Runs.)

The other day, I was scrolling around the Girls on the Run of the Rockies (GOTR) site to sign up for my annual coaching stint when I read about Karen "Casey" Cortese, who is raising money for GOTR by doing the inaugurual Triple 7 Quest: a challenge during which participants run 7 marathons or half-marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. 

I love a good Amazing Race situation, so I had to know more. I reached out to Casey, a 51-year-old aunt runner (she's got six nieces and nephews) who is originally from Racine, Wisconsin, but has lived in Denver for decades. Until February 8, when the Triple 7 Quest kicked off, she'd run a total of six half-marathons her entire life, but it's NBD: She apparently loves a good (sleepless) challenge. 

Actually, I'll let her tell you why she signed up for the Quest:
Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with self-doubt—as have most women, as I’ve learned through my 51 young years. Not because I’m incapable of taking on challenges or due to a lack of success. In fact, there really is no reason. It just is.

I’ve found in my quest to always be MY best, I sometimes have confused that with wanting to be THE best. And if I feared I couldn’t be the best, I’ve shied away. I didn’t want anyone to think I am lacking. In anything.

Race Schedule at a Glance: 
2/8:  Melbourne, Australia (AUSTRALIA)
2/9:  Abu Dhabi, UAE (ASIA)
2/10:  Paris, France (EUROPE)
2/11:  Tunis, Tunisia (AFRICA)
2/12:  Long Island, New York (NORTH AMERICA)
2/13:  Punta Arenas, Chile (SOUTH AMERICA)
2/14:  King George Island, Antarctica (ANTARCTICA) (After the race, they'll visit a penguin colony and camp overnight.)

Total Miles: 91.7 on the ground,  39,464 in the air.

Most Challenging Race: Tunis! We'll be running 1 a.m. after the Paris race at 10 a.m….with no time to sleep in between!

Goal: To finish. To keep moving, and to carry the young women of Girls on the Run with me.

Number of nights she'll sleep in a hotel room during the Triple 7 Quest: 1. (The luxurious Hampton Inn in Garden City, NJ, if you're wondering. Before the Long Island race: Lincoln's Birthday Marathon and Half-Marathon.)

Jetlag plan: I’m hoping we’ll be traveling so fast I won’t even feel lagged. But I’ll drink plenty of water and stretch my legs on the plane whenever possible. But this will be a mental game: I will only think about the joy of the run ahead of me.

Nutrition plan: I Have plenty of peanut butter packs, protein supplements, and Bakers Breakfast Cookies, which have kept me nourished through my training. I haven’t stuck to a specific nutrition plan during my training, as I knew I’d be running on many different types of food during the race journey.

There's a group of five runners, going for the Guiness Book of Records by running seven marathons on seven continents linked together.
There's a group of five runners, going for the Guiness Book of Records by running seven marathons on seven continents linked together. (Photo from Crazy Girl Runs.)

Packing list: Two pairs of broken-in running shoes are at the top of the list. I have running clothes for the 98 degree heat in Melbourne to the -26 degree chill in Antarctica. For the coldest temps, I have a balaclava, some heat packs, wool stocks, along with a wool  hat and a wind-resistant jacket. I have three pairs of compression socks and will wear them on every flight. Layers are key, but being from Colorado, I’m an expert at that.

Karen's mom (age 74—and her first half-marathon!), Karen's sister, and Karen at the Great Wall of China Half-Marathon.
Casey's mom (age 74—and her first half-marathon!), Casey's sister, and Casey at the Great Wall of China Half-Marathon this spring.

Inspiration, part I: My Mom. In May I did the Great Wall of China Half-Marathon with my sister and my mom. It was my mom’s first half-marathon—at the age of 74! She has always told me I can do whatever I set out to do, and she lives that example constantly. I also have an incredibly supportive group of family and friends who have pushed me and are rooting me on, which means the world to me!

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Inspiration part II: Girls on the Run. If my crazy around the world race adventure can somehow inspire young girls to discover and reach their unique and full potential through running, then all the training hours, the miles and yes, the pain, will be worth it.

If you're inspired and want to donate to Casey's Girls on the Run campaign, click here.

If you want to follow the rest of Casey's adventure, here's her blog.

Curious: What running adventure do you want to go on?

70 responses to “7 Continents, 7 Half-Marathons, 7 Days: The Amazing Race of Running

  1. My friend, Don, (the race director for the Grand Rapids (MI) Marathon) is running this as well – the marathon version. I can’t even imagine. So awesome on all fronts!

  2. Cheryl,
    When I read your response I was struck by the off-putting feeling I got from it. It reminded me of another comment on a recent podcast post. The one about running a sub 30 minute 5K or 60 minute 10K. That comment also felt that way. Not sure if you intend to put your comments that way. But both struck me as unkind. Not sure if there are more. Yay for you for accomplishing all that you do. It is great. (Perhaps you do want a little recognition??) And/But, yay for the other women accomplishing things as well. I’m ready to applaud everyone!

  3. I coached girls cross country in the early 80s for seven years after school (teaching) during the week. It was fun and exhausting at the same time. It was before the GOTR movement (obviously). We brought home the city wide trophy one year. I have always supported and helped girls get “into” sports/running. Some of these small frys continued to run and as adults competed in marathons and triathlons (talked to them many years later). I didn’t need any “press” about it. No one knew except those girls and their parents. That was enough for me. I also took them out for frozen yogurt after our meets. I still teach (my 39th year). I make teachers wages. I run things that don’t cost a lot of money to get to because I don’t have any (much extra). I want to run to the top of a local mountain here where I used to run and hold the ascent record. That’s my “adventure”-and it won’t cost me a thing to do it and I won’t even write about it or post pictures. Great that there are those “out there” who have the time and money to do this. It’s the women I work with on a daily/yearly/decade basis that are in the trenches making a difference who get no recognition.

  4. Go Casey! I’ve been following an acquaintance who is doing the 7 marathons in 7 days, but did not realize there was a half option. Either way it’s an impressive accomplishment and I can’t wait to follow her journey.

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