Australian marathon and ultra marathon runner Trent Morrow, easily recognisable around the world, running as the “Marathon Man” – in the Super Hero inspired uniform – has succeeded in accomplishing the impossible.
This Sydney-sider completed a challenge never before seen in the running world and in the process set a new World Record, running 160 officially organised marathon races – across all seven continents – within 365 days between April 2013 and April 2014.
Honouring the two important women in his life
Morrow, 41, had taken on this mind-blowing challenge to mark the 20th anniversary of his late mother, who had passed away from colon cancer. At the same time, he had wanted to do something special for his step-mum, who had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer – subsequently succumbing to it last March.
The marathoner, who had taken the leap of faith and resigned from his position as a National Sales Manager in the pharmaceutical industry prior to taking on this challenge of a lifetime, said, “I had wanted to take on this challenge, not knowing whether I could do it, but I was inspired by the two great women in my life to make a difference and show others what was possible when you had a big enough reason.”
Overwhelmed by emotion upon completion
When he had completed his final marathon across seven continents earlier this year at the iconic Boston Marathon, Morrow was overwhelmed by emotion. He said, “I felt a little bit numb in many respects, knowing that something I spent so much time and effort to do, had finally drawn to a close. It was so hard to believe that I had got there and actually been able to achieve this dream with the support of so many amazing people around the world.”
The marathoner added, “This whole journey was a day-to-day struggle. There had been some people on the outside who were also waiting for me to fall over and were wondering how long I could actually keep going, so there was some satisfaction that I could deliver the results.”
The entire challenge was far from easy and there were many times along the way when Morrow may have questioned himself on how long he would last.
In fact, the logistics were on a scale never seen before, circumnavigating the world more than eight times to make his way to the various marathon starting lines. One of the biggest challenges proved to be bringing travel plans together even before the challenge of running more official marathons than had ever been completed before, across all seven continents in one year. There was a variety of transportation methods relied on, including more than 100 flights, plus numerous cars, buses, trains, taxis, ships, ferries and travels by foot to go the distance.
Morrow explained, “It was certainly a big challenge in terms of looking at exactly where those races were and trying to coordinate the travel plans and logistics to get from one marathon to the next, in time.”
On one occasion, it didn’t help when connecting flights were delayed and the runner missed the connecting flight in the USA, from Denver to Billings, in Montana, after running the challenging Hawk 100 Marathon in Kansas earlier in the day. There were few options available to make it to the start line the next morning so the decision was made to rent a car and drive through the night across three states for close to 12 hours on no sleep – even though Morrow had only slept for two hours the previous night. In the end after a challenging journey, he made it to the start line, to see runners taking off for the next marathon – before quickly parking the car and setting out on the next challenging marathon adventure. (For more details, see http://www.ktvq.com/news/marathons-parallel-life-for-australian-man-pursuing-world-record/).
Suffering from fatigue
Fatigue was also another massive challenge. In fact, going from one marathon and straight to the start line of another one, was quite common for Morrow.
Said the marathoner “It has been a real test of character. Physically, the body gets to a point where you have to simply hold on.”
This pursuit was made even more challenging by the fact that many of the marathons were run over consecutive days with 35 marathons in 40 days during November to December 2013, alone.
As well, during November last year, Morrow had to complete three marathons in the USA, in two days. These were the Thunder Road Marathon in North Carolina, followed by the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon the very next morning in Texas. Immediately following the race in San Antonio it was time to make his way to Las Vegas where he arrived – with minutes to spare before the start of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon.
Said Morrow, “The travel logistics were made even more challenging by the extremes of weather conditions proving physically and mentally draining when greeted by rain in Charlotte at the start line and then running in the intense heat of San Antonio. The race in Las Vegas started at 4.30pm, which was warm but finished at night in very cold conditions.”
But Morrow did well in the three marathons. He finished each one between 4:23 and 5:30 hours, after starting each race only hours apart with precision logistical management.
“I was happy with the finishing times, considering the schedule. It had definitely not been easy,” said the runner.
Plagued by injury
With such a punishing schedule, Morrow was not spared injuries while on the road to complete the challenge of a lifetime. One of the most serious took place in March last year, when he had been looking at completing 17 marathons in 17 days.
“I got up to my 10th marathon and then I felt some pain in my right shin. I didn’t know what was happening and I got through marathons 11 and 12. But I was in excruciating pain after that, and I walked an entire marathon on Day 13 in San Francisco and just collapsed after that,” Morrow said.
It took a good few months for the injury to subside. During this period, Morrow admitted that he was running in pain – despite advice from a doctor in Brussels, Belgium, that it was not worth running.
Morrow still made plans though, to run a marathon in Bonn, Germany – after walking out of a hospital in Brussels. He managed to push through the pain and courageously completed the race in four hours and 33 minutes.
Said the marathoner, “That was a really risky thing to do. I could not afford to take any time off, to achieve the big goal. So I had to manage my injury as best as I could. I would not have done it though, if I did not have a real reason to do so. I was on this mission and had belief and certainty that I could do it even though a lot of people were thinking that I would not go the distance.”
The generosity of strangers
Morrow had initially started out using his savings to get by and set out with the intention of securing sponsors to share the challenge. The corporate support pursuit proved to be a consistent obstacle to manage on a daily basis, while dealing with the continuous running and travel demands.
But he received amazing help from many people.
Said Morrow, “There were so many incredible people that shared this journey and helped out by providing crucial online words of support on social media, accommodation, travel support and financial assistance to see the dream turn into a reality. These special people helped make the difference and played a significant role in doing something that had never been achieved before. I am eternally grateful for this support and love being able to share this on-going adventure with so many around the world.”
As his fame grew and word of his mission spread, more people heard of this inspiring story and helped out, in all sorts of ways that he had previously not imagined.
Most memorable marathon race
One of the most memorable races for Morrow was the Chicago Marathon last year, which he ran in three hours and 57 minutes.
“The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is first class in all areas – with the event extremely well organised. The course was challenging with some of the best atmosphere and crowd support you will find at any leading marathon around the world. It was a real nice touch that such a major city as Chicago provided the ideal post-race site to recover in Grant Park. The drink stations along the course were well catered for too, by the friendly volunteers with a great mix of drinks and food supplies available at the finish. It was also a real bonus to find that the race results, including time splits were available soon after crossing the finish line so we could compare our results against those of our fellow runners. The melodic tunes played by the band from the stage to entertain the crowds provided the ideal way to wrap up a great race day experience,” explained Morrow.
Still some marathons that he hopes to run
Even though he has already run close to 300 marathons around the world since 2008, there are still many more marathon adventures that Morrow plans to take part in.
Close to the top of this list is the famous Berlin Marathon. Morrow explained, “Berlin is the last of the six World Marathon Majors that I certainly need to complete. It is also recognised as one of the fastest in the world. Having already experienced the other internationally recognised fastest marathon course at the Dubai Marathon, I would really like to run in Berlin too.”
The magical Walt Disney World Marathon, the iconic Marine Corps Marathon and the scenic Big Sur Marathon in the USA, are also races that Morrow hopes to snag a race slot for, in the future.
Started running to lose weight and became hooked
Morrow had initially started running in 2006 to lose weight – and he completed his first half marathon in December 2007, in one hour and 51 minutes.
With the running euphoria still fresh, he then put his name down for the Marathon des Sables, recognised by the Discovery Channel as the “toughest footrace on earth” with it being the most challenging self-sufficient 250km race across the Sahara Desert.
Morrow said, “I was very underprepared, but I went out there and managed to successfully complete the event. It basically took off from there when I realised that the love of travel could be combined with the new love of running to maintain the best level of fitness and health.
“Now of course, I never thought that I would end up getting to the point where I would be doing marathons day in and day out, and sometimes even two marathons in a single day on a regular basis.”
Indeed, Morrow’s passion for running today, still burns as strongly as ever. In fact, he has so far completed close to 300 marathons – and counting. Prior to establishing this exciting new benchmark in running to set the World Record with 160 marathons across all seven continents in one year, he was also the only person to run in every state and territory of Australia, as well as on both islands (North and South) in New Zealand in consecutive years – during 2011 and 2012.
Hopes to inspire and make a difference in the lives of others
Morrow hopes to use his running to inspire others around the world – to take on new fitness and health challenges.
The marathoner said, “I hope my story can be an inspiration to others out there, regardless of age or experience with running. I am really looking forward to sharing this journey with many more, over the days ahead. I sincerely wish to inspire a new generation to take on new challenges and share the journey towards the very best levels of fitness and health.”
Added Morrow, “I would like to encourage people to go out there, lace up their shoes and take those first steps towards this exciting new journey towards unlocking the best version that each of us possesses within.”