Calum Ramm, a captain in the Marine Corps, has run many marathons in his day, but last week he set out on a far bigger challenge: running seven marathons on seven continents in just seven days as part of the World Marathon Challenge. Starting off deep in Antarctica on Jan. 23, he went on to complete marathons in Chile, Miami, Madrid, Morocco and Dubai before the finale in Sydney, Australia, on Friday. Only 15 athletes took part; those who finished ran 183.4 miles through snow, mountains, tropical heat and city streets.
Captain Ramm, from Lansing, Mich., is running to raise money for a charity, the Semper Fi Fund. and is a member of the official Marine Corps running team. Here are some of his thoughts about his experience:
Running in Antarctica was actually a lot easier than I thought. It was a four-lap course, and if I closed my eyes it was almost as if I was running in Michigan during a long winter in my high school days. I only had a base layer and jacket on, plus the normal hat / gloves / balaclava, and still overheated at times. Because the sky was the same hue as the snow, it was difficult to see anything more than white — and beyond it, the outline of mountains. A thin slice of blue sky off the horizon was the only thing that kept me from losing all orientation.
Chile was way easier, but the wind was brutal. Almost had me moving backwards at some points. I went out really slow, but dropped some serious splits on the last eight miles. Felt really good upon finishing, almost better than Antarctica. The footing was obviously better so that helped.
In Dubai I hit my wall. I thought I may not finish, at least not running. Pounding out so many miles on pavement had beat my feet up pretty bad and I had some serious shin splints — so bad that my whole leg started to swell. I could hardly put weight on it before the race started. By mile eight I was hurting pretty bad. At that point, I decided to shed my sneakers and run barefoot, hoping to reduce the swelling and open up the blood flow. I normally do one training run a week barefoot in grass, and that came in handy at this moment. I crossed the line in under four hours, which was a huge relief. But my race in Australia felt in jeopardy.
I knew I had to run Sydney in shoes because it was 13 laps on brick. Plus it was at night and along the beach — so who knew what I might step on. Walking to the start line, the wind was out of control. Not ideal conditions for a bummed leg. But like I had done in Dubai and Morocco, I thought about all the individuals cheering me on and knew I had to just gut it out. I linked up with the other Marine and we pushed through a mile at a time to finish in 3:38 for the final race.
It was bittersweet crossing that line. I was happy I didn’t have to wake up and throw the running shoes back on. But this incredible life experience was coming to a close. Running has always been so much more than just a hobby for me. It has been a venue to vent my frustrations, clear my head and help sort out life’s challenges. And in this event, the many, many miles spent with nothing but the pavement and my thoughts meant something more: a chance to help troops and veterans in need. Thanks for the support.