In 2007, Rob and I decided to take a year off work (hmmm, a recurring theme – I’m definitely not made for the corporate world!). We felt young and free, we wanted to make the most of life, we wanted to travel the world and be active.
Even though we had only completed one half marathon each (ever!), we didn’t let this little detail deter us … We decided that since we both ran (a bit) and I’ve always been passionate about sport (a lot), running would be our main focus for this journey around the world.
So just like that, I threw myself into our exciting new project. We created the “Race Around The World” challenge. Exclusively designed for us, we were aiming to run over 1,000 miles during our trip, run a half marathon on every continent (except Antarctica – too expensive) and finish by running New York marathon in the USA.
It took a few months to put the pieces together. I did a lot of research on races and events, planned and prepared maps, and I even pitched some sponsors. I succeeded in securing our main sponsor – thank you again Skins, and I set up a partnership with a charity (The Mango Tree, which supports families affected by AIDS in Tanzania).
We ran a bit in preparation too; we were working in Tokyo at the time so we spent a few months running on asphalt.
I gave up my rental flat, donated my furniture to the Goodwill and packed up my sparse belongings into a storage. And off we went, just like that… with only a backpack on our backs… This was exactly 10 years ago, in March 2007!
I look back at those days and I smile. Rob was just happy to go with the flow so that left me in charge of our training! I know…. scary! I was so naive and inexperienced. I had never followed a training programme in my life, I barely knew they existed. Before we left, I downloaded a free running programme from the NYC marathon website. I then “tweaked” it to fit around our main races, and I ignored all the words I didn’t understand at the time such as “fartlek”, “tempo runs”, “HITT” 🙂 So we were basically just training on mileage, never on pace. I hadn’t planned a single interval / speed work session etc …
I also threw in the mix a strength session once a week, which was made up of sit ups and a few lower body strengthening exercises such as squats. And that was it! We were off…
But my lack of experience and expertise was more than outweighed by my overwhelming motivation and determination. I was so eager, there were no limits. And that’s what really made it all possible. Running wise (and on so many other aspects of course), the trip was such an incredible experience. We learnt so much and we were steep on the learning curve, just because we had to be!
We ran in such a variety of environments and circumstances, and we became so resilient! We trained and raced:
- In the heat of the Atacama desert in Chile (no wonder we couldn’t breathe, it’s not just hot, we were also at 5,000 m of altitude!)
- In the freezing cold of southern Patagonia, in Ushuaia (Argentina), commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world (who was it that said “you never get cold when your run” again?!)
- At altitude in the Himalayas in Nepal (no wonder our pace was so slow! Not to worry though as we were only training based on mileage!)
- On the Great Wall of China crawling up thousands of steps (literally) and with tummy bugs from food poisoning (Great Wall of China half marathon)
- In big cities fighting against the traffic. And by traffic, I mean real “traffic” with cars going full speed in all directions – it did make you run fast! (Santiago half marathon)
- In the mountains on Kilimanjaro having to cope with both heat and altitude simultaneously (yet again, you would have thought we would have learnt from previous experiences in Chile and Nepal) (Kilimanjaro Half marathon)
- At night in the dark before the sunrises to beat the mosquitoes on the island of Lamu (Kenya)
- In wind and dry heat by the ocean coast in Australia (Noosa Half marathon), in some of the American southwest national parks and in the humidity of Hawaii
- In dangerous cities with political unrest, having to shorten our runs not to get in trouble (both in Nairobi and Kathmandu)
- In the most remote places in the world, being chased by wild dogs (maybe that helped with the speed work and counts for interval sessions!)
Phew…. Somehow we survived it all. And what a blast it was!
We made it through all the races in one piece and completed them all! And we had a great finish by running NYC marathon (our first full marathon) in under 4 hours (even though we had no idea about our pace on long distance runs, we were initially targeting sub 4h30m). How we managed sub 4 hours, considering we also knew nothing about sports nutrition and we only had half of an energy gel each (we shared one!) and a few gulps of water during the entire marathon, is a mystery!
Cheers to the 10 year-anniversary, what an adventure it was!!
And just like that, it was the beginning of my running journey! And the running story goes on….
#followyourdreams #followyourpassion #nevergiveup #teamcimalp #cimalp #totallywonderfuel #deltanutritionandfitness