It's official - the 2018 World Marathon Challenge adventure has finally arrived! I'm sitting here in Dubai waiting for my connecting flight to Cape Town where I will meet everyone I'll be sharing an incredible 7 days of my life with. So just what is going to happen over these 7 days we are travelling the globe, how does this all work and how can you follow? Here's all you need to know!
So as I mentioned Cape Town, South Africa is the point at which all 50 competitors from around the world will meet. Cape Town is due North of Novolazarevskaya Station, Antarctica where the first Marathon will take place so it makes sense to meet here. As such it makes it convenient to get back to for the second Marathon. Our first briefing and chance to meet as a group will take place tomorrow evening (the 28th since I've already lost track of what time and day it is) and then we will have more briefings on the 29th especially around the logistics for Antarctica I imagine.
Here are the race locations, courses and estimated start times in the order they'll occur with a few witty remarks. I might be a bit tired and punchy which makes this fun! Note there's always the chance for some flex in the schedule for a variety of reasons (weather conditions, cricket matches, well more on this shortly).
Tuesday, Jan. 30th / Novo, Antarctica / 15:00 Local Time (10AM EST)
The mother of all the races and the most logistically complicated. We will travel to Antarctica via a Boeing 757-VIP operated by Icelandic Air - the maiden voyage as I understand it! Novo is the location of a Russian operated research station and is about 6 hours due South of Cape Town and 75km from the coast. Once there we have a couple of hours to get prepared and then we're off. The course is actually on the same runway we will land on and is roughly 2 miles each direction with a 200m turn and is a total of 6 loops. The temperature should be somewhere between 15-30 degrees F (it's their summer time and nearly 24 hours of daylight). Wind is really the big X-factor in Antarctica. Here is what that looks like:
After we complete the Marathon, it'll be a quick change into warm clothes and then we have shelter in a heated tent with a warm meal. 2 hours following the 8-hour cutoff for the Marathon we head back to Cape Town.
Wednesday, Jan. 31st / Cape Town, South Africa / 10:30 Local Time (3:30AM EST)
After arriving back in Cape Town we will have around 6 hours before the next Marathon starts. This will takes place in the Seapoint Promenade area of Cape Town which is pictured to the right. The course is four 10km loops followed by a short 2.2km loop to finish. The weather should be clear and in the 70's to low 80's. This is probably one of the toughest Marathons mainly because of the short turnaround time between Marathons. Here is the Cape Town course:
After completing the Marathon, we'll be able to shower in a nearby hotel and then we head to the airport for our next flight which will depart around 9pm local time.
Thursday, Feb. 1st / Perth, Australia / 21:00 Local Time (8AM EST)
We are due to arrive in Perth around 4:00PM local time and have about 5 hours before the Marathon will start. The Marathon will be 8 loops of 5.2km on a path in the Burswood area pictured to the right. Conditions should be clear with temperatures in the mid to upper 70's I imagine since it will be dark out. Here's the course:
After completing the Marathon, I believe this is our first opportunity for a bit of rest in a hotel. The next flight is scheduled to depart at 9:45AM local time.
Friday, Feb. 2nd / Dubai, Asia (UAE) / 19:30 Local Time (10:30AM EST)
We arrive in Dubai at roughly 5:30PM local time and have about 2 hours before the Marathon will start. The Marathon will be 10 loops of around 4.2km on a path at Jumereih Beach pictured to the left. Conditions are expected be clear with temperatures in the 60's - perfect really! Here's the course:
Following the Marathon we should have another nice opportunity for a shower and sleep in a hotel. The next flight departs at 10:30am local time.
Saturday, Feb. 3rd / Liston, Europe / 17:00 Local Time (1PM EST)
We arrive in Portugal at roughly 3:20PM local time and have about 2 hours before the Marathon will start. The Marathon in Lisbon will take place in the Park of the Nations, 4 loops of around 10.5km. Conditions should be very pleasant - clear and in the 50's! Here's the course:
After another night in the hotel, we will be on our way to South America at around 7:35AM local time.
Sunday, Feb. 4th / Cartagena, Colombia / 15:00 Local Time (3PM EST)
Back on Eastern Standard Time! We arrive in Cartagena at roughly 12:25PM local time and have about 2.5 hours before the Marathon will start. The Marathon will take place in the Old Walled City and will be a 14km followed by 6 loops of 4.7km. This will be the hottest Marathon by leaps and bounds - temperatures are likely to be the 80's-90's! Here's the course:
After our final night of sleep in what promises to be an incredible hotel, we will be off to our final destination in Miami! Wheels up at 8:00AM local time.
Monday, Feb. 5th / Miami, North America/ 13:00 Local Time (1PM EST)
The final finish line is upon us! We arrive in Miami at roughly 11:00AM local time and have about 2 hours before the Marathon will start. The Marathon will take place in South Beach and is 5 laps of 8.4km. Temperatures are forecasted to be the 70's with clear skies! Here's the course:Fin! Find pancakes, and beer! Celebrate.
I should toss in all these races are certified and designed in loops to make them easier to support by the World Marathon Challenge crew.
How we get around
I've already mentioned the trip to Antarctica will be a specialist flight operated by Icelandic Air on a Boeing 757-VIP. As soon as we arrive back in Cape Town and for the remainder of the trip we are on a chartered Airbus A340-VIP where we will do a bulk of our eating and sleeping. We will have assigned seats so it's basically our little home for the 6 days following Antarctica. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea.
I feel compelled to insert a disclaimer here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. My main strategy is to make sure I take everything in I can. I am in the midst of so many incredible people with such inspiring stories and we are all poised to share a roughly 25,000+ mile journey across the globe where we'll run a collective 9,170 miles (~183 miles each). What the time says on the clock at the end of the day really is not important. I expect based on training I'll be in the 3:30-4:00 range as it's typically where I'm comfortable and mainly aerobic provided I'm decently healthy and recovered. That of course is difficult on such a short turnaround. So, whatever happens, happens and finishing each and every race, and the challenge is the end game.
That said - of course I have a general routine I follow. Each race I expect to take about 350 calories of in the form of Tailwind Nutrition. I'll adjust that as needed either reducing or increasing as time goes along. I mix in some PROBAR bites to change up the flavor. But Tailwind is what I've trained and raced with for several years now and I'm comfortable it should get me through each race provided I've been able to get enough calories between races. I'll take the Tailwind in about 40oz of water and of course might adjust that as well for conditions. After each race I'll immediately use Hammer Recoverite - a supplement made specifically for rapid glycogen replenishment and decreased muscle soreness. I swear there is something magical about it and I can absolutely tell the difference when I opt not to use it. I also used it during training on the back-to-back Marathons and long training efforts Ian Torrence (Sun Dog Running) dialed up for me. Then in between it becomes a game of how much food (more simply stated how many calories) can I get in knowing I need to fuel as much as I can for the next day. At some point that's likely to become a losing battle but I've trained in depleted state in the form of no calorie long runs so I'm not too concerned. I'll use PROBAR meal and protein bars for snacks along with their nut butters and also some of my mom's famous sriracha jerky! The meals we'll receive on the plane look delicious and contain a nice blend of macro nutrients which plays right into my normal eating habits. When off the plane I'm sure there will be some opportunity to eat at local establishments as well.
In terms of running it's the same rinse-and-repeat routine. I'll change nothing. Same sandals, socks, shorts, shirts, hats, hydration equipment, etc. It's all right here with me. I may change up from handheld to vest for hydration depending on how I feel or how hot it is but that's about it. Squirrels Nut Butter will help prevent chaffing and ward off hotspots that could turn into nasty blisters. I'll likely wear socks with my sandals for that reason as well. In Antarctica I'll wear special Neoprene swim socks between my sandals and socks to prevent and ice or snow from soaking my feet and it will add an extra layer of warmth. Luckily I had a chance to play with this in Virginia Beach during the recent snow! In Antarctica the only difference from normal running clothing is I'll wear a nylon windproof shell over my track pants and a windproof jacket as well if need be.
Then it's really just a matter of how much rest I can get. I think the lay-flat configuration on the plane should help a lot with that along with the opportunity to sleep in hotels in 4 of the destinations. Waking up might be the challenging part! But it's like any other run - just get up and get moving and it will all sort itself out.
How to follow
This is probably the single most asked question I get - and it humbles me so many want to follow along! We will not have Wifi on the plane and I imagine we'll want to spend that time resting as much as possible. On the ground I'm sure we will have Wifi and any updates I posted will be on the JP Runs the World Facebook page. That said the most frequent updates will be posted by the amazing photography and video media crew the World Marathon Challenge has covering the event on their Facebook page: World Marathon Challenge. I would definitely encourage you to follow them! And course there will be a lot of media surfacing after the challenge is complete.
That's all I have for now folks! If there's anything else you'd like to know feel free to leave a comment below! As always, I'm grateful for your support and can't wait to share a beer and a few stories after completing 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in under 7 Days!