Photo: Neil Zeller
Stephen Park likes to test his limits, so completing seven marathons on seven continents in seven days seemed like a reasonable thing to do.
“I like pushing myself, scaring myself,” he says. “It’s just a challenge, so let’s see if I could do it. I’ve never run marathons back-to-back in my life. I’m not a quick runner, but I know I’m a pretty determined individual.”
A 44-year-old accountant with three children, Park needed to get creative to fit training into his busy schedule for a feat that would fly him over 60,000K around the world and see him run almost 300K. Park would take breaks throughout his workday to run 25 flights of stairs at his Calgary office tower, half a dozen times a day. He shovelled snow in a short sleeve T-shirt to prepare for conditions in places such as Antarctica.
“Discomfort is 90 per cent mental and the other 10 per cent is in your head,” he says. “You can tough it out, make life uncomfortable to experience a little bit of pain because it is all mental. If I could do this race, anybody could do it. You just need to start and push yourself each day.”
And push himself he did.
We all have it in us to take it to the next level.
Triple 7 Quest takes runners to seven different marathons on seven continents in seven days. The only Canadian in the race, Park was one of eight who completed all seven marathons. He caught up on whatever little sleep he managed to get on airplanes. His first marathon took place in Perth, Australia, where he suffered through 39C heat and developed blisters from his shoes that got soaked running through sprinklers to keep cool.
Race 2 took place in Singapore. A day later he was dodging traffic in chaotic Cairo, then ran in Amsterdam. The group arrived in New York City during Donald Trump’s immigration ban for the Presidential Inauguration International Marathon. Sixteen more hours of airplanes and airports took them to Punta Arenas, Chile, which proved to be his toughest race.
Antarctica hosted the final race, where Park set his running pace alongside penguins and research scientists who came out to watch the run.
Park has registered to run the 150K Ultra at the Calgary Marathon in May. In April, he is running the Canyons 100K Endurance Run in Northern California.
“With support of friends and family and with the right mindset, you can push your body to places that you just didn’t think were possible,” he says. “We all have it in us to take it to the next level. We can apply this to all aspects of life. Put one foot in front of the other and you’ll finish what you started.”