Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to announce that on Jan. 29, Dan Cartica, BBA’10, won the 2016 World Marathon Challenge. Dan finished first or tied for first in all but two of the race’s seven stages, setting a new world record for the fastest average marathon time in the process.
This January, Dan Cartica, GWSB BBA ’10 , will take on the World Marathon Challenge, a race that requires participants to run seven marathons on all seven continents…in just seven days. Dan took a few moments to tell us a bit about his preparations for the World Marathon Challenge and his motivations for participating in such a grueling race.
What is the World Marathon Challenge?
It’s seven full marathons run on consecutive days on all seven continents. This year, the race starts in Union Glacier, Antarctica, followed by marathons in Punta Arenas (Chile), Miami (USA), Madrid (Spain), Marrakech (Morocco), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), and the final leg taking place in Sydney, Australia. Only a handful of runners have completed the challenge—this year there will be 12 of us taking it on together.
You’re an experienced runner having been a member of GW’s Cross Country team (2008-2009)—what kinds of distance running have you done since then?
I have completed three marathons and three ultra-marathons (distances of 100km). I also attempted a 100 mile race on about five weeks of training after returning from a deployment with the U.S. Marines Corps—this did not go well at all and was quite the learning experience. I have been transitioning my overall focus into triathlon training and typically do well at longer events. I believe Ironman triathlons—a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon—and other longer triathlons (even Ultraman competitions) will be my strong suit going forward.
What is it about running you enjoy the most?
I enjoy competing and seeking out boundaries to break through to reach that next level. Running, like many other sports and activities, also requires discipline, will, and desire. It’s an activity where it’s you versus nature and you versus your own thoughts. It provides me an opportunity for reflection, and that’s something that I think a lot of runners can relate to, using running as a kind of therapeutic tool. All of these aspects of running transition into everyday life for me.
How do you prepare for an endeavor like the World Marathon Challenge?
My training has not deviated too much from my normal routine. I am doing a lot of cross-training and cross-fit type workouts, in addition to a lot of long-distance and interval swimming, to complement my running. I only run 3-4 days a week, but I am efficient when I do hit the pavement, building up to where I can comfortably do a 35-mile run and the next day come back and do 20-25 miles.
I’m not going out there to run a personal best marathon time, it’s much more about the process and being able to sustain your pace for a longer period. Recovery and staying healthy is the name of the game for this type of challenge, and I’ve gotten a lot better at listening to my body. Yet, I don’t know fully how my body is going to react until the event begins. I’m not sure if there is anything that can fully prepare you for a challenge like this.
What leg is the most daunting to you?
The logical answer would be Antarctica, but this will actually be the first marathon in the challenge, so adrenaline will be pumping and we’ll all be excited. I’m not too worried about the cold because we’ll have proper cold weather gear. Marathons 4 and 5 are where I feel this challenge really begins and where you will have to dig deep. I would expect Morocco (leg 5) to be very challenging—it will start not too long after midnight and by that time we’ll be extremely jet lagged, have not slept too much, and the climates we’re running in will have fluctuated a few times. Waking up on a long flight with cramps in my quad or calf will also not be a pleasant experience! One quote that has always resonated with me is, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable,”—this will certainly be the case throughout this endeavor.
Why are you running the World Marathon Challenge?
In early July 2015, I had just re-located from California to Chicago for a new position with the U.S. Marine Corps, and my mind was churning; I was looking for something to go after. ESPN released a short documentary on the World Marathon Challenge that month and I just happened to stumble across it. About a week later, on July 16, four Marines and one Sailor were tragically killed in Chattanooga, TN. I was just hit with the feeling that I was obligated to do something. That’s why I’m running this challenge: To honor those we tragically lost that day.
I’m currently raising $25,000 to off-set the cost of participating in this endurance challenge, and anything raised in excess of that amount will be donated to the Chattanooga Heroes Fund in support of the families of these servicemen. Upon completion, I plan to present each family with a collage signed by the 12 of us participating from around the world and a few other pieces of memorabilia from this endeavor. It’s my very small way of thanking the families for allowing their son, husband, father, or brother to serve this great nation. A good number of the other 11 competitors will be taking on this challenge for their own reasons/causes. It will be really exciting.
What needs to happen for you to consider this effort a success?
There is a higher calling and purpose for why I am doing this event—if I can inspire just one person to do something for another serviceman or get out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves, I will consider this event to be a success. I don’t need to finish in first place. The justification, this calling, and my ultimate purpose for doing this, those 5 warriors: they will bring me to that finish line in Sydney, Australia.
Is there a way for GW Alumni to follow your progress?
Our Facebook page is already live, and a Twitter account will be created about a month before the start of the event; we will have consistent updates on Facebook and Twitter throughout the entire Challenge. This is the second year the World Marathon Challenge is being held and I know there will be a lot of press/media coverage leading up to, during, and after this event.
The 2016 World Marathon begins on January 26 in Union Glacier Antarctica—good luck, Dan! Stay tuned for our follow-up with Dan after the challenge; in the meantime, you can follow his efforts on Facebook.