The Washington Post: Seven Marathons in Seven Days on Seven Continents

Robert Hamilton Owens, The Washington Post
Robert Hamilton Owens, The Washington Post

When Robert Hamilton Owens’s father was 75, he gave his son some advice. “He said, ‘You know, son, the sad part is when you get old they just put you on a shelf and you become irrelevant. Fight to stay relevant. Fight to stay in the game, otherwise they will write you off.’ ”

Owens took his father’s words to heart, by physically pushing himself way beyond what most people half his age have ever done. At 66, he has completed a dozen Ironman races, along with other grueling physical competitions such as SEALFIT (a 50-hour Navy SEAL hell week for civilians) and a recent endurance event in Greece that involved running 238 miles in eight days.

Later this month he will embark on perhaps the most insane trial yet: the World Marathon Challenge, where he will run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. After starting in Antarctica, participants will sleep on a chartered plane and wake up each day to run another 26.2 miles — in Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai; Lisbon; Cartagena, Colombia; and Miami — 168 hours of nonstop running and flying.

Of the 54 participants this year, Owens is only the fourth-oldest; the oldest is 73. It costs 35,000 euros to enter, or about $43,000; in his case, friends and sponsors donated.

Owens has been pushing his body to the edge since he was a Southern California surfer trying to get out of the Vietnam War. At 18, he says, he slammed his arm into a concrete wall hard enough to “make it mush” and avoid the draft.

But afterward, as he watched others his age go off to fight, he felt guilty... READ MORE

Rick Krusky