Local Lawyer to Run Seven Marathons in Seven Days on Seven Continents

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Ames

While Chicagoans gear up for another round of arctic temperatures, one local runner will pack her bags to head south, though she likely won’t find relief from Chicago’s freeze for another week or so.

Sarah Ames, a partner with Quarles & Brady, LLP, will take on the World Marathon Challenge, which kicks off on Jan. 23 with a marathon at Union Glacier, Antarctica, where temperatures may climb as high as about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, while the low will likely hang more in the 0 degree range.

The World Marathon Challenge tasks participants with running seven marathons in seven days on all seven continents. While Ames has never taken on this particular challenge before, she has more than enough experience running marathons in foreign locales, having completed marathons on all seven continents four times before.

“After the fourth time, I wondered, ‘What am I going to do now?’” Ames says. “The guy who organizes the North Pole Marathon, Antarctic Ice Marathon… and the Volcano Marathon in Atacama…started organizing the World Marathon Challenge. Last year it ran for the first time. I knew about it and knew several of the runners participating. I thought that’d be fun to try and would be a true challenge for someone like me, who’s really more of a recreational runner.”

World Marathon Challenge runners headed to Punta Arenas, Chile on Jan. 18 to prepare for their trip to Antarctica, where they will run their first of seven marathons. After completing that race, participants will fly back to Punta Arenas, Chile, followed by Miami, Madrid, Marrakesh, Morocco and Dubai before finishing with a marathon in Sydney on Jan. 29.

Balancing training with her work as a lawyer proved challenging at times, but Ames says she’s not too worried about how that will impact her experience.

“I’m certainly not risking being overtrained,” Ames says. “I just have to deal with it when I get there. It’s going to hurt either way, regardless of whether you’re trained or not. Whether I run it in four or seven hours is really not that important to me. I want to enjoy it and have fun.”

In addition to the physical challenge, Ames also took on a fundraising challenge to coincide with her running. Through her participation, Ames intends to raises awareness and money for Hamlin Fistula, an Ethiopian hospital and network dedicated to reducing the incidence of and providing treatment for obstetric fistula, a debilitating childbirth injury most commonly suffered by women without access to maternal care.

Ames first learned about Hamlin Fistula and its work while traveling in Africa, and found the organization had a particularly unique connection to the World Marathon Challenge, as the hospital’s founder originally lived in Sydney, where the challenge will end. All donations to Ames’ fundraising will go directly to Hamlin Fistula.

“It’s a great vacation for me, but I would really love to see different benefits coming out of it and to have it help people more than I do,” Ames says. “That would really be my hope: that this marathon can be beneficial to some people that really need it.”

You can follow Sarah’s experiences during the World Marathon Challenge on Facebook, and donate to her fundraising online.