7 marathons, 7 days, 7 continents: Calgary man completes Triple 7 Quest in record time
Along the way Stephen Park raised more than $6,000 for Alberta Cancer Foundation
Near-missed flights, running for his life through Cairo's notorious traffic jams, landing at New York's JFK airport during the chaotic aftermath of President Donald Trump's recent immigration ban.
Those were just a few of the hurdles Calgary's Stephen Park had to overcome to complete the Triple 7 Quest. But he can now lay claim to being the only Canadian on the planet to complete seven full marathons in seven days on seven continents, while flying on commercial flights to get to them.
(Another Canadian, Patrick Charlebois, recently completed the World Marathon Challenge, which also involved running 42 kilometres on seven continents in seven days but they hopped around the globe on chartered flights.)
6 days, 23 hours, 35 minutes
Park completed the race in six days, 23 hours and 35 minutes — besting the quest by 25 minutes and making him only one of four people on the planet to complete the gruelling challenge in the allotted time.The previous record stood at 11 days.
He said during his racing odyssey he only got three or four hours of sleep at night — mostly on planes — and fuelled up on gels and protein packs stuffed into his running bag.
"I'm a little stiff, a little tender, a little cold … But I'm not sure. That could be the adrenaline rush wearing off just a little bit," Park told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday, a couple of days after landing back in Calgary.
Started with a resolution
The second annual Triple 7 Quest competition, which began in Perth, Australia on Jan. 25 and ended in King George Island in Antarctica on Jan. 31, tested the mettle, patience and mental fitness of Park, 44, a chartered accountant at Stantec Consulting.
Park, who started running in 2002, stopped when raising a family began to take up too much of his time. In 2015, he rebooted his running career with a resolution to get in shape again, and got hooked on long distances.
Hearing about the Triple 7 Quest motivated him to take up the challenge. He was also motivated to raise funds for people with cancer, including some family members, as well as the thousands of people who are currently going through cancer treatment in the province, he said.
Besides breaking the current record by four days, Park also earned the seven medals and raised $6,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Park hopes to raise $10,000 by the end of the week.
Running man odyssey
Park's odyssey got off to a strong start at 6 a.m. on Jan. 25 when he touched down in Perth for the first marathon. Despite the scorching 39 C temperatures, he set his pace and ended up running every marathon in around five hours.
"The big challenge of this quest was that if we weren't at the starting line, our whole quest was over with," he said.
In between starting lines and catching planes, he managed to meet a more light-hearted goal — to eat a local food and drink a local cocktail. That included a Manhattan in Manhattan and a Singapore Sling in Singapore.
"It was my sanity break."
After Perth, next came Singapore, followed by Cairo, Amsterdam, New York City, Chile and finally Antarctica.
He opted to fly economy every leg of the journey to save money.
Craziness in Cairo
Cairo proved to be the most harrowing race of all for several reasons. Using a translator app, they made it to their hotel to frantically get ready for the race within 10 minutes.
"It was just craziness ... pure pandemonium," Park said. He then made the mistake of not taking a bathroom break.
"It was dark out and there was a lot of military presence," he said. He finally made it to a hotel to use the bathroom only to be frisked by guards when they thought his bag might contain a gun.
But there were always highlights to make up for the challenges.
In Antarctica, researchers from Russia, Chile and China came out to cheer him on, soon after he said he was "in my Canadian gear and running by penguins."
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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener
- An earlier version of this story stated Stephen Park is the only Canadian to complete seven full marathons in seven days on seven continents. In fact, he's the only one to do it on a commercial flight. Another Canadian, Patrick Charlebois, recently completed the World Marathon Challenge, which involved running 42 kilometres on seven continents in seven days but this event involved chartered flights. Stephen Park was also incorrectly identified in the last photo in an earlier version of this story.Feb 07, 2017 8:27 AM MT