7 Marathons • 7 Continents • 7 Days
We recently chatted with Munish Mohendroo, about his completion of the World Marathon Challenge.
Please tell us a bit about yourself:
- Munish Mohendroo, Founder and Partner – Valkrest Consulting Corp.; a speciality financial advisory practice.
- I am a proud father of three girls, and always grateful to my dear wife who not only supports in my running pursuits; but often takes part in running events with me.
How long you have been running, and how did you get into it?
- At school, I was a short distance runner. Thereafter, have kept running, but enjoyed it for fitness and as a stress reliever.
- I started long distance running after moving to Canada; with my first full marathon around 2008 in Toronto. Since then I have run many half marathons, and 10 full marathons (excluding the 7 that I did recently) in Canada and Dubai, including some interesting destination ones - the Great Wall Marathon in China, the Polar Bear Challenge (full marathon + half marathon) in Greenland, and running to the Dead Sea in Jordan in the summer heat.
When did you first hear about this event? Please tell us a bit about it.
- As I was recovering from knee surgery over a year ago (ACL reconstruction following a ski accident); being a runner I dreamt of running marathons again. I surfed the net looking for a goal to pull me out of that and into fast-track recovery mode. That’s when I came across the World Marathon Challenge, a physical and mental test of endurance - combining my passion for running with a stretched target to achieve. I signed up and started training for it in May 2022, and the race was from Jan 31, 2023 to Feb 6, 2023.
- The WMC involves running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days (consecutive days) – so a marathon on each continent – Starting off in Antarctica, then moving through Africa (Cape Town, South Africa), Australia (Perth), Asia (Dubai), Europe (Madrid), South America (Fortaleza, Brazil), and finishing off in Miami (North America).
- The clock starts when we start the 1st Marathon; in Antarctica. And thereafter we have 168 hours to do the last one in Miami. Antarctica is the first as that’s the most challenging from weather perspective to fly in, run and fly out. Thereafter, we essentially live on the plane. We would run a marathon, get on the bus to the airport, eat sleep and recover on the plane, disembark ready to run another race – AND Repeat!!
What type of training did you do leading up to it, and any specific gear that you felt was important?
- The main training took place starting in June 2022.
- The journey to train for this was tough. I had to build leg strength, knee stability, before building endurance. Eventually moving onto longer runs, consecutive day runs, focus on nutrition, sleep etc.
- I enlisted a coach – she is the current women’s world record holder in this event; based out of Denmark. She developed a tailored program for me, and we would have 2 weekly chats initially, and then eventually leading to weekly chats; sometimes 2 times a week closer to the race.
- Training included – about 4 days of running per week, supplemented by bike rides, long brisk walks, and strength training. Average endurance training built up from 40km of running per week (additional 40km of bike & walk), to 90km of running per week (additional 50km of bike & walk). Towards the last 3 months, we built in 2 running sessions a day or a long run and a bike ride to follow immediately.
- As I read about each race and the climate at every location – I would regularly visit Strides and found Jeremy very helpful in bouncing off ideas. Right from giving advice on different types of gels, suggesting socks to avoid blisters, special warm gear for Antarctica – shoes, Balaclava, mittens, spikes etc.
- While I bought the Spikecross for the Antarctica race, these would always give me ankle pain. And I was always nervous about that. And on the last day before departing, Jeremy came up with the idea of screwing spikes into the soles of my regular Asics running shoes, accompanied with warm icebreaker socks as the shoes were not Gore-Tex. And that was a lifesaver!! I ran the Antarctica race with those, worked perfectly - no ankle pain at all. I cannot even imagine having to go through 6 marathons with a persistent ankle niggle!!!!
Tell us a bit more about the event. Any highlights or lowlights?
- We ran at all hours of the day, varying temperatures, diverse terrains. Form -25c with 60mph winds one day, and blazing sun with 70% humidity and 30c hot temps the next. We ran at noon, we also ran past midnight…. We ran through a stomach bug that kept circulating through the group. We slept on the floor of the airplane, on the floor at airport, on the floor at the race sites. We faced ridiculous logistical issues and delays; which meant that the last 3 races were run in a space of about 40hrs!!
- The fellow runners were great. We soaked positive energies and drew inspiration from each other. There were 2 athletes with disabilities participating. There was an 80 yr old gentleman finishing this, athletes pushing through stomach bugs – stories of inspiration that I will never forget. I made some amazing friends over the course of the 7 days.
- Antarctica was a high point – the special feeling of just setting foot on that continent. The flight to Antarctica was also special, with a 1970 pre-soviet era plane (see pics attached). Having lived and worked in south Africa, Capetown was very special too. The volunteers were amazing at every race. In Dubai friends came to cheer me on and bring me home cooked food, that was exciting and a jab of an energy boost.
- Low point would have to be Dubai and Madrid – I caught a bit of the stomach bug. I could not take in any gels or electrolytes during the race – and had to make many trips to the washroom during the race. But with the words of encouragement from fellow runners, inspiring stories of the other athletes running through pain and disabilities, having my friends there to cheer me on, and the support of friends and family back home - kept me in the race and push through.
How did it feel to finish that 7th marathon?
- Finishing in Miami was awesome. My wife flew in from Calgary, and another friend flew in from LA to support and run with me. It was very special to have them there when finishing. It was a great sense of accomplishment – something that a year ago seemed impossible from my recovery bed after surgery. But there in comes the power of the mind and pushing yourself.
- This challenge was a mental, physical and spiritual journey that has impacted my life in a very positive way. The grit that I saw from the other fellow runners, the friends that I made, the love and support from my family and friends from around the world – things that I will never forget.
- I do hope that my daughters learn to chase their dreams and adventures in life. There's an adventure waiting for all of us, we just have to find it. I want them to understand that ordinary people can achieve amazing things if we put in the desired effort. we don’t have to be the best at something, but we should give it our best. As I say, I am not a professional or an elite athlete, but I have come back having successfully completed the 7-7-7 WMC; that too without injuries. I stretched myself here, and I reached far.
What do you have planned next?
- I am not a fast runner, and I am not chasing fast times. So something more simple and fun, and maybe closer to home. There are many amazing races in Canada (e.g. in the Ultra in Canmore, the Yukon Ultra, etc.) that I would like to explore. Running in every province and territory in Canada would be exciting (not consecutively days though!!!!). And then there are some amazing races around the world with history and significance…… But as of now, nothing penned down.
What an incredible challenge! Thank you so much for sharing.
Learn more about the challenge here: https://worldmarathonchallenge.com/