Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The possible dream—that’s what Glen Avery achieved when he finished the World Marathon Challenge at the young age of 66 years old. Informally known as Houghton College’s marathon man and a 1972 college alumni, Avery laughs at a “traditional route” for a retired technology librarian and professor. Instead, he runs seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. No biggie.
This running path has also led to 85 marathons and 28 ultramarathons around the world since he was 51. He’s been to every continent at least twice.
However, the marathon challenge was different, obviously. Avery, along with the likes of winner Mike Wardian and retired marathoner Ryan Hall, had seven days to complete the feat. Moreover, he made history at age 66 by becoming the oldest person in the world to attempt—and complete—the WMC.
“It’s the kind of challenge where I thought, I want it to be hard enough so I had to really work for it, and I want to be able to say I did something just extraordinary but doable,” Avery said.
Antarctica, one of the world’s most inhospitable environments, hosted the first leg of the race, where more than 30 participants from more than a dozen countries ran on Union Glacier at the mercy of the weather. Next they travelled to Punta Arenas, Chile (South America); Miami, Florida (North America); across the Atlantic to Madrid, Spain (Europe); Marrakech, Morocco (Africa); Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Asia); and finished up in Sydney, Australia, for the seventh and only night race of the challenge.
“The World Marathon Challenge was the ultimate energy allocation problem,” Avery said of the crazy weather shifts from race to race. “Those conditions forced me to pace myself and run smart.”
For him, though, the most impressive part of the journey was the never-ending support among runners. “The camaraderie during this event was very intense. The main goal for the group was for everyone to finish the challenge—no matter what their time. I feel blessed to have been part of this group of individuals possessing unique and fascinating stories.”