BY CHRIS HATLER PUBLISHED: FEB 10, 2023
Not Only Did He Run 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days—He Won Them All
Despite crazy weather, travel delays, and hundreds of miles, David Kilgore came out on top of the World Marathon Challenge.
David Kilgore loves running. So much so, that he’s taken on challenges like running 100 miles to raise money for hospital workers or running the entire circumference of Manhattan.
“I’m always looking for for new angles and interesting challenges that pop up,” Kilgore, who is the Global Manager for On Running’s trail and ultra athletes, told Runner’s World. “It keeps it spicy for me and makes me really enjoy the sport.”
So when the 31-year-old from New York City signed up for the World Marathon Challenge in 2021, during which participants run a marathon on each of the seven continents in just seven days, he couldn’t wait to take part. Unfortunately COVID-19 restrictions kept pushing the event back. Eventually, in January this year, it was his time to depart on the journey.
First stop? Novo, Antarctica, where he and the other racers were told to expect pretty good weather.
“They definitely oversold the weather,” he said, laughing.
A nasty storm came through, so the runners had to race on a one-mile out-and-back along a landing strip. Due to poor visibility, there were bright flags on the course to keep runners from getting lost. Despite the conditions, Kilgore finished in first place, running 3:23:17.
The freezing cold of Antarctica didn’t get Kilgore down. In fact, it energized him. “Everyone was stoked to have the true Antarctic experience, cause it was so freaking gnarly,” he said.
The finishers rushed to the plane to get to Cape Town, South Africa to get after marathon and continent number two. After a good night’s sleep, they faced the complete opposite weather conditions. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the temperatures were in the “crispy” high 80s, said Kilgore. It was mind-blowing to him, because Antarctica and Cape Town were just a few hours’ flight apart.
Kilgore took another win in Cape Town on the six-loop course along the Atlantic coast, this time running a much-faster 2:58:15. From there on in, the runners had their own chartered plane that would basically be their home base for the next five days. Kilgore spent much of his sleep and recovery time being on the plane, including the post-race flight to Australia for the third marathon.
Unfortunately, flight delays pushed the race back from the evening of February 2 to the following afternoon, which meant more scorching temperatures for the runners. The conditions once again didn’t stop Kilgore, who pulled away for another win in 2:55:07.
By then, Kilgore was starting to feel comfortable and confident completing the challenge: “I thought I could start cranking this down day by day, and see where it goes.”
He wasn’t kidding. At the next race in Dubai, he crossed the finish line in 2:52:06 to win and cross off the Asian continental race. Then, in Spain for the European leg of the trip, Kilgore won again in 2:44:27. He was five races in and notched five wins. With the final two in sight, the group made their way to Brazil for the South American marathon.
By this point, Kilgore felt connected to his group. “I was like, this is adult marathon camp. All of us compressed together, doing this epic challenge.”
After another flight delay out of Europe, they had to squeeze two marathons into 24 hours. They landed in Brazil after an overnight flight and ran as the sun rose along the coast in Fortaleza, Brazil. The running path was overwhelmed with people commuting or exercising, so Kilgore had to dodge dozens of pedestrians to win his sixth race in 2:55:59.
Even more flight delays followed, forcing their final race set in Miami, Floria to go off at midnight on February 7. Originally hailing from Palm Bay, Florida, Kilgore felt an outpour of support from his home state, including friends and family who came to watch. With the help of friends and his fiancé on a bike, he ran his fastest time yet: 2:41:50.
“Super stoked on the whole experience. So overwhelmingly thankful for all my sponsors, supporters, friends, and family… This is what I love to do with my life and without without all of them, I wouldn’t be able to do the same,” he said.
Most runners complete a handful of marathons a year. Kilgore completed seven across the world in just seven days, winning them all. And he wasn’t done yet. Just a few days following his final world marathon, he hopped on a plan heading to New Zealand for the Tarawera 50K.
“My legs actually don’t feel too beat up. So, excited for the next one—and to keep the party rolling,” he said.