Blog | 7 continents, 7 marathons
'Hello, I’m Laura Jones and I’m running 7 marathons on 7 continents in one year.
I’ve always been involved in the Scout movement, and like many other members I’ve always loved a challenge. Whether it’s climbing a mountain or learning a new skill, you always learn a lot about yourself when the going gets tough.
This time last year I’d never run more than 5km, but after a friend suggested running the Everest Marathon, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Fast forward a few months, and I’d decided to expand the challenge to a marathon on each continent. I also wanted to use the challenge to raise money for two great charities, and it was a very natural choice to nominate the Scout Association, and also the Jonny Wilkinson Foundation.
For my first few training runs, I honestly thought it would be impossible to ever be fit enough to finish a marathon. But by persevering through those long winter evenings, my persistence started to pay off and I noticed improvements. I kept my milestones realistic, and set a schedule of running events which gradually increased the distance and gave me focus points to work towards.
The best step I made was to joining the local running club, the Dorset Doddlers. It was so helpful to be in a supportive and encouraging environment, much like Scouting. There is a real team spirit, and the advice from veteran marathoners was invaluable, even if they did think I was a bit crazy!
By April, I was nervously shuffling in to position at the start line for the London Marathon, my first of the seven. I was blown away by the sheer scale of the event, and it was an unforgettable experience. Everyone had asked me what time I was hoping for, but in honesty I just wanted to finish. I’m not an elite athlete, I wasn’t going for any speed records, I just wanted to soak up the atmosphere and see if I had it in me to cover those 26.2 miles and cross the finish line. Thankfully, I made it!
Just 3 weeks later I was in the Himalayas, for what I thought would be my hardest of all the marathons. We trekked in to Everest Base Camp over a two week period to acclimatise to the altitude. The marathon started from Base Camp itself, which is strewn with loose rock and ice. Add the fact it’s above 5,000m, and it makes for some very difficult conditions, and all but impossible to actually run! I knew that a good finish time wold be sub-10hours, and I was delighted to cross the line after “only” 9hr:35mins!
After just 2 weeks at home, we were flying again, and arrived in Canada for the Banff Marathon, my third in 6 weeks. I started in very high spirits, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. After about 10km I started to feel an electric pain shooting from my ankle to my knee, and at the 12km mark I was forced to retire. I was driven back to the start line, treated by medics and spent the afternoon waiting for x-rays. Thankfully there’s no permanent damage, but suffice to say I was pretty deflated.
So now I have a summer to focus on recovery and rehabilitation, before training for the next race in Patagonia in September. I will of course go back to North America, I can’t give up that easily. After all, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing, right?