What is your life goal? As a runner, my life goal is “Seven Marathons on Seven Continents.” The concept is straightforward: if one full marathon is not enough for you, then why not visit all seven continents and complete a full marathon on each one?

How long is a full marathon? It is a joyful course of 26.2 miles, or just over 42 km.

Do you enjoy running? I’m not a fast runner, nor do I totally enjoy distance running (it is painful). But I really enjoy the benefits of running, as well as the community of runners who are always supportive, athletic, exciting and young (or young at heart)! The running community usually has big goals and many of them achieve theirs. Runners tend to feel accomplished in life, which is a great feeling.

Seven Marathons on Seven Continents?

Are you crazy? Yes, absolutely. In fact, I joined the Seven Continents Club – organized by Marathon Tours and Travel, a Boston-based travel agency specializing in helping clients run races around the world. According to the list in their database, only a few hundred runners have completed all seven marathons on seven continents.

Uhmmm, they really have a marathon in Antarctica? Yes, and I’ll talk more about that in a bit!

How far along am I? Well, as of 2016, I’ve completed six out of seven! I’m set to complete my last continent, Antarctica, in 2019.

So which marathons have I done so far? Here’s what I have under my belt so far.

1. North America: The Marine Corps Marathon

In October 2006, I completed my first full marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, in Washington DC. Organized by the US Marines Corps, this is definitely the most organized race I’ve ever participated in. The MCM is one of the major marathons in the US, and I felt extremely accomplished when I did this. This was where I decided that it would be my life goal of running a marathon on each continent! I mean, why not, right?

Seven Marathons on Seven Continents - Washington DC
The Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC (2006)

I have also competed in the Georgia Marathons in Atlanta, where we live. I am officially a “streaker” in this race, meaning I have participated in either the full or half Georgia Marathon since its inauguration in 2007. There are many other great marathons in North America – the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, the Big Sur Marathon, etc. – so if you are inspired to do one here, you can easily find one in your favorite city.

2. Australia: Blackmores Sydney Marathon

In 2007, my good friend Ryan and I decided to visit New Zealand and Australia. We arranged our visit to coincide with my second continent marathon: the Blackmores Sydney Marathon. This was my first running race abroad. Now I was hooked. The marathon organizer liked this picture so much that they have it posted on their website for next year’s event!

This is also the place where I decided that seven marathons on seven continents was something I wanted to do!

Seven Marathons on Seven Continents - Sydney Australia
Blackmores Sydney Marathon (2007)

3. Asia: Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon

Fast forward to February 2012 – five years after my Australian Marathon, Ryan and I went to Asia to run the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. Three down, and just four more to go in my seven marathons on seven continents journey! I thought of running the Great Wall of China Marathon (lots of stairs!) or Penang Marathon (which starts at 11 at night to avoid the heat), but decided against both for the time being.

Seven Marathons on Seven Continents - Hong Kong
Hong Kong BIB Number and my participation medal!

4. Europe: Sparkasse 3-Länder-Marathon Bodensee

Almost immediately after completing the Hong Kong Marathon, I decided to sign up for one in Europe. After doing some research, I was attracted to this particular marathon that spans three European countries: Germany, Austria and Switzerland! And there was a bonus. I got to run it with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

In 2013, I ran the Sparkasse 3-Lander Marathon. I met up with our good friends Bjorn (who ran the marathon with me), and Patrick (who did the relay with his team). We had a great race and reunion. This marathon runs a very picturesque and (thankfully) flat course along Lake Constance (Bodensee in German). And just in case you were wondering, all three countries are within Schengen Area, so there is no border control in the course. No stopping at passport control for us! (Although I wish they did – I would have ended up with some cool passport stamps during my marathon race!)

Seven Marathons on Seven Continents - Europe
Bjorn and me at the finish line – the official finisher’s photo.

While I chose this one, there are many other great European Marathons to consider: the Berlin Marathon, the Paris Marathon, the London Marathon, to name just a few. And of course, the Istanbul Marathon runs through both sides of the city, spanning Europe and Asia. Before you think to yourself “This can count as two continents!” you’ll be disappointed to know that they consider this a European marathon – no “Seven marathons on Seven continents” shortcuts here (sadly!)

5. Africa: Sanlam Cape Town Marathon

In 2015, I found a great airline deal to South Africa, so I signed up and completed the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. African portion of my life goal = complete! It was a very pleasant race to participate in. And just two more continents to go!

I considered a few other marathons in Africa: the Addis Ababa Marathon (who doesn’t associate Ethiopia with marathons?) or the Victoria Falls Marathon, which would be extremely cool to run.

Seven Marathons on Seven Continents - South Africa
The finish line of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon!

6. South America: Easter Island Marathon

Although physically located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is governed by Chile, which technically makes it part of South America. I had the painful pleasure of running the Easter Island Marathon in June 2016 – I wrote an article about this marathon – Running the Easter Island Marathon.

Seven Marathons on Seven Continents - Easter Island
With my favorite Moai at the finish line!

And, finally …

7. Antarctica: Coming soon in 2019!

The culmination of my seven marathons on seven continents goal is going to take place in February, 2019 – mid-summer on Antarctica. Arranged by the Marathon Tours and Travel, the yearly Antarctica Marathon is the marathon to end all marathons. For many in the “seven on seven” club, it’s probably the last one they do as well. Imagine, running with penguins near the bottom of the planet! I can’t wait! Both Michael and I have paid the deposit. He’ll be exploring a glacier while waiting for me to pass him by on my run. Yep, it’s a way off yet, but stay tuned for more exciting posts about our Antarctica trip and marathon in 2019.

So that’s my life goal – nearing completion!

What’s yours?

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Halef moved from Indonesia to the US nearly two decades ago to go to college here. He hasn't looked back. He's been to over forty countries and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. He's a Landscape Architect in Atlanta, GA.

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