On March 31, David Anderson, Paul G. Blazer Professor of Economics, accomplished a goal 11 months in the making: he completed a marathon in Treviso, Italy, that marked the last of seven marathons on seven continents.
“I didn’t think I would do the continents until about a year ago, when I had the opportunity to go to Africa and figured I’d run one there and perhaps chip away at the other continents,” Anderson says.
In all, Anderson’s feat involved these races:
- Kalamazoo Marathon 2018, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 3:21:21 5/6/2018, 23rd male, 1st Age group
- Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon 2018, Moshi, Tanzania, 3:33:24 6/24/18, 1st foreigner
- Beerwah Marathon 2018, Beerwah, Australia, 5:26:30 12/9/18, 1st American, trecherous mud
- White Mountain Marathon 2019, King George Island, Antarctica, 4:19:56 1/15/19, 6th male, 3rd American
- Punta Arenas Marathon 2019, Punta Arenas, Chile, 3:31:25 1/19/19, 2nd overall, 1st American
- Miri Marathon 2019, Miri, Malaysia, 3:49:38 3/17/19, 52/1400+ overall
- Treviso Marathon 2019, Treviso, Italy, 3:34:19 3/31/19, 28/116 in his age group
“The biggest barrier was Antarctica, which is tough to reach,” Anderson explains. “But I found a group planning to run marathons there and in South America on the same trip, which killed two birds with one stone and made it realistic cost-wise. Antarctica was still tough due to the conditions; we slept in tents and had no showers or other facilities.
“Australia was the hardest course, because it was a trail race in the outback where there was torrential rain, and we ran through rivers of mud,” he continues. “I fell twice and was on the course for more than five hours.
“On the other hand, Europe had my favorite course. In Treviso, near Venice, the city and countryside were as charming as I could have imagined.”
There is a certain spirituality Anderson has found in distance running.
“To run for many hours through the paths of a place is to uncover its true identity,” he says. “Running also allows one to meditate and reflect, unperturbed by digital distractions.
“I see running as a reminder that what goes around comes around,” Anderson continues. “Like the looped courses of marathons and running tracks, what goes around in terms of most things, from kindness to hatred to money, comes around. For example, after extending kindness to me at our base in Chile by inviting me to join his birthday party, a runner learned in Antarctica that we were supposed to bring our own sleeping bags. He didn’t bring one. I had brought two out of concern about the cold, and I happily lent him one. Likewise, when working with airline staff who determined whether I’d get a standby flight, wait staff who spoke different languages, taxi drivers who could overcharge me, and tour organizers who had to decide whether to let me run in their race even though I wasn’t part of the rest of the tour, I saw repeatedly around the world that patience and respect, when given, are returned. I am thankful for many good lessons such as this, much good luck, a supportive family and a welcoming world. I hope that what goes around our small planet, along with marathon maniacs, is an abundance of patience and respect.
“Overall, it was a humbling experience. Everywhere I went there were faster people. I was also struck by the cities that had more advanced transportation systems than ours, the people everywhere who were exceedingly friendly, and the stark contrasts across the world in terms of food, clothing, culture and economic development. In Tanzania, they couldn’t keep water on the tables at the water stops, because clean water is prized, and the water bottles would disappear. In Asia, the race started at 2 a.m., and around 4 a.m., as we ran through the darkness, it was spellbinding to hear clergy in mosques chanting their calls to prayer.”
When asked about his next goal, Anderson jokingly replied, “If Elon Musk would cut me a deal on SpaceX, I’d like to run a marathon in space.”
by Cindy Long
April 18, 2019
Above: David Anderson at the finish of the Punta Arenas Marathon in Chile