7 Marathons, 7 Continents, 7 Days — Mike Wardian Hits Sydney Hard & Fast.
Michael Wardian, HOKA ONE ONE athlete and champion marathoner/ ultramarathoner/ trailrunner/ roadrunner was in Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches toward the end of January for an exceptionally special run. It was the final leg of the World Marathon Challenge — 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days.
With over 250km already in his legs for the week, jetlagged and late after refuelling delays in Jakarta, Wardian was still a blur. Starting his run at 1:20am he flew between and past the other 35 competitors taking on this epic feat of resilience and endurance.
Running up and down for a total of 26 lengths of the boardwalk, athletes were in varied and changing states of fatigue. Some seemed to move strongly and with self-assurance, others clearly fought pain and personal demons.
Ryan Hall, the only American marathoner to ever run sub-2:05, ground his way up and down The Corso under intermittent lights in the dark. At 60% above his Olympic race weight, Hall now looks more like a cage fighter than a distance runner. Having built his strength and his body during time out from running, Hall wanted to take on this brutal feat of endurance as the most fitting way that he could say goodbye to the marathon.
He had started the week running just over 3 hours in Antarctica. He was finishing the week in Sydney clearly in pain but without a murmur of complaint. Instead, he just smiled and pushed on, saying that he was exactly where he wanted to be and had everything he needed. Speaking beforehand, he revealed that the green ASICS singlet he was wearing for this final run was the same that he had worn when he debuted at 2:08 in London in 2007.
After finishing his own run shortly after 4 in the morning, winning the entire challenge more than 5 hours faster than any previous competitor, as well as collecting a $15,000 Sportsmanship Award for his charity of choice, Wardian returned to the course in his notorious World Record Elvis suit. He would complete another 28km to bring his total for the week to over 320km (200 miles — nice round number if you’re tied to the empirical system!)
He would run some of these shoulder to shoulder with his friend Hall. Clearly the two had developed a real affection for each other during the week. As much as Mike was clearly pulling for Hall to get through the pain of 4 hours pounding concrete, the Olympian had also clearly been impressed by Wardian’s grit.
“I’m here getting this done, and this has gotta be the longest day ever,” said Hall, “but this guy has been going to the well every day.” Having just seen how deep Wardian was going when he went to the well, it was astonishing to think that this was how fast he had been running every day.
When the camera crew that captured his finish asked him how he could dig so deep, he replied, “You still have to push hard, I’m going for time. The time doesn’t say it was 95 degrees [Fahrenheit] (in Dubai) and no shade with a headwind. It just says 2:49. That’s just part of the game and if you want to put up good times, you got to run hard and I tried to do that every day.”
With a bit of local support in Australia, we made sure he got an iPod to help him push through the final miles, “My buddy Roger cranked up some AC/DC and Taylor Swift, so I got a chance to hammer a couple of miles with AC/DC. AC/DC in Australia, I mean, I don’t know if there’s anything better than that.”
Mike Wardian’s Week of Global Marathoning: the week in review.
Day 1, Antarctica: 2:54:54
Day 2, South America: 2:45:42
Day 3, North America: 2:37:56
Day 4, Europe: 2:42:35
Day 5, Africa: 2:45:33
Day 6, Asia: 2:49:25
Day 7, Australia: 2:45:31
Time To Fly!