Ultimate endurance test: 7 marathons, 7 days, 7 continents

By WILLIAM J. KOLE Associated Press | 12.03.15 | 8:55 AM BOSTON (AP) — Seven marathons in seven days on seven continents? You'd be forgiven for thinking Becca Pizzi is seven kinds of crazy. ‘‘I get that a lot,’’ said Pizzi, who’s vying to be the first U.S. woman to complete the World Marathon Challenge. The 35-year-old day care center operator from Belmont, Massachusetts, is one of 15 competitors from around the globe who will attempt the feat in January. Pizzi is no stranger to the rigors and ravages of the classic 26.2-mile distance. She’s a veteran of 45 marathons, including 15 Bostons, and she’s 27 states into her quest to run a marathon in all 50. Friends say she’s got one setting: Beast Mode. But she’s never tried anything like this. Nor has any other woman from the U.S. — a singular enticement to tackle the ultimate endurance test. ‘‘The second I heard about it, I knew I was born to run this race,’’ Pizzi told The Associated Press. ‘‘I'm doing it to represent my country and to inspire the world that you can do anything you put your mind to.’’ On Jan. 23, 2016, she'll be in Union Glacier, Antarctica, to run the first of seven full marathons. Next up, on consecutive days: back-to-back marathons in Punta Arenas, Chile; Miami; Madrid; Marrakech, Morocco; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Sydney. Within a span of 168 hours — 59 of those spent recovering in compression socks aboard a charter flight shuttling competitors 23,560 miles from race to race — she'll have conquered all seven continents: Antarctica, South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. ‘‘It’s going to be an uncomfortable seven days,’’ she said. ‘‘We may not even get a shower. It’s basically going to be run, sleep, eat, repeat.’’ Four other Americans — all men — will join her, along with competitors from Australia, Germany, Japan, Morocco and Singapore, including three other women. So far, only one woman, Marianna Zaikova, of Finland, has completed the Challenge; she did it in its first running in 2015.

It’s not just exhausting; at $36,000, it’s expensive. Pizzi fronted the cash but has been lining up corporate sponsors to help defray the cost. So far, two companies — Ultima Replenisher, which makes electrolyte replacement drinks, and Dr. Cool, which sells compression sleeves and other performance items — are covering about half of her expenses.

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