One runner, seven marathons, seven continents – in seven days?

One runner, seven marathons, seven continents – in seven days?

Pawtucket’s Nick Wishart plans to be the first Rhode Islander to complete seven marathons on seven continents in seven days in next year’s World Marathon Challenge.
Pawtucket athlete hopes to complete World Marathon Challenge

PAWTUCKET – Nick Wishart plans to run seven marathons next year, which to the average person, is a very noble feat.

The Pawtucket resident also plans to run each of the seven on a different continent, which to the average person, sounds amazing, adventurous, and quite expensive.

And he also plans to do all this in a seven-day stretch.

Seven days?

“Some of my buddies, people who know me well and feel like they can be open with me, told me, ‘Are you crazy?’ “ Wishart said. “But then the very next thing they said was, ‘This sounds awesome.’ “

“This” is the World Marathon Challenge, an epic seven-day journey that will begin on Jan. 30, 2018, and fly runners on a chartered plane to marathons that take place (in order) in the Novo Base in Antarctica; Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Madrid, Spain; Barranquilla, Colombia; and Miami, Fla.

“This” presents a grueling challenge not only logistically, but also mentally and physically to those brave enough to contest it, but if Wishart, who recently turned 48, can complete the venture, he will not only accomplish an astounding feat that only 59 other runners in the world have ever achieved, but also be the first Rhode Islander (and second New England runner) to do so.

“I’ve been consumed by this since this past November when I officially signed up,” Wishart said. “Since then, it’s been like a part-time job.”

Wishart, who does real estate and appraisal work for Keller Williams Realty in Cranston, has been hard at work on his part-time job, not only preparing for the challenge by running and working out at a CrossFit gym, but also by marketing and doing everything he can to raise the money necessary for he and his wife, Amanda Trogus, to take the trip of a lifetime.

“I have always been inspired by people I see that do things that look really hard,” said Wishart. “Once I saw this on the news, I said to myself that if there was a way we could pay for it, that we had to do it.”

A native of Acton, Mass., Wishart is an avid runner with four 26.2-mile races under his belt: three Boston Marathons and one New York Marathon. Wishart’s best of that bunch was his last one, in 2002 in Boston, when he recorded a 2:45:59 time, and since then, he’s done everything from 5Ks to half marathons.

Wishart didn’t harbor any thoughts of running any marathons until he found out about the World Challenge Marathon a few months after its debut in 2015. A nagging ankle injury “kind of put (the WCM) aside in my head at that time, but when the next year came around and it was on the news again, I was totally stuck on it.”

In that 2016 event, a fellow New Englander, Becca Pizzi of Belmont, Mass., captured the women’s championship in a record time of 27:26:15, averaging 3:55:11 per marathon, and she also topped nine of the 11 men who were in the field.

“She’s the one who got me really hooked,” said Wishart. “I called her back in November and said, ‘I really want to do this; I don’t know how I can afford it,” and she told me what I needed to do, and I immediately went home and sent the race director a deposit. She’s been great. I’ve talked to her four or five times since then and she’s given me great advice, and I also talked to two or three other people who ran it this past year.”

To pay for the expenses of his trip, Wishart needs to raise $40,000, but he’s looking to come up with close to $100,000, with the extra money going toward his wife joining him on his journey and three charities that are near and dear to him, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the March of Dimes, and the R.I. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA ).

“I’m a little worried about raising the money, but I feel like once this thing picks up steam and gains momentum, and more people hear about it, I’ll feel better,” remarked Wishart, who has a website where people can make donations or offer sponsorships at www.nickwmc.com and social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. “Since I got my website live, I’m getting a ton of responses and I’m already getting some donations and unbelievable feedback – just great support from everybody.”

To prepare for his seven-marathon swing, Wishart has been running 8 to 9 miles a day three times a week, with the goal of increasing his mileage this summer and extending it into long runs by the fall (and maybe running a marathon or two along the way). He’s been getting a lot out of his runs, but he’s also been enthusiastic about his CrossFit workouts at Industrial Revolution CrossFit on Smithfield Avenue.

“I started going there in January, and it’s the most inspiring place I’ve ever seen,” he said. “The people there are amazing. I never did any lifting or gym work like this before, and I’m almost more excited to go there than I am to go out and run. I would be there every day if I thought I could without getting hurt, but my body feels very good because I’m not just running and I’m not just doing CrossFit.”

Once 2017 turns into 2018, Wishart will be awaiting his first flight of the trip, to Cape Town, where he plans to arrive a few days before the official check-in on Jan. 28 “just to get used to the time difference and kind of get my legs back under me,” he said.

On Jan. 30, Wishart and the rest of the field will board WCM’s charter plane from Cape Town, where the temperature averages in the mid-80s, to Antarctica’s Novo Base, where the temperature hovers around 30-below and the winds kick up to 40 mph.

“Antarctica’s going to be as cold, windy, and bleak as you could imagine,” Wishart added with a laugh. “And then the very next day in Cape Town, it’s going to hit 85. The following day in Dubai, it’s going to be 90. Madrid’s going to be great because it’s going to be 55-60 degrees, but the rest (of the WCM) is going to be very warm.”

The different temperatures and the 183.4 miles of running aren’t the only things that will take their toll on Wishart. He will also total 60 hours of flying and soar in the air for a little over 25,000 miles. How does he plan to stay somewhat fresh during the seven days?

“Thankfully, I sleep well on planes,” Wishart said. “I think it’s going to be all about the conditioning that I have going into this, as well as my recovery time on the plane. I have to make sure I get enough food and my protein powders, get some good sleep on the plane, wear compression socks to keep my blood flowing in my legs, and a lot of stretching. I stretch more than an hour a day, and I’m going to have to do as much stretching as I can on the plane.”

As far as planning any sightseeing trips, forget about it.

The exact time of day the runners will board their plane, as well as start their seven marathons, is anyone’s guess, added Wishart, and that adds a bit of excitement to the challenge.

“It kind of sounds like once the last person finishes a marathon, we’ll jump on the plane and go,” Wishart said. “There will be at least one or two night races, because most of the time, once you get in, you run. If you get in at 2 in the morning, you run at 2 in the morning. (The event organizers) want to keep the clock going, because again, the whole idea is seven marathons inside of seven days, so no one’s telling you, ‘Go to the hotel, and we’ll see you at noon.’ “

Despite the obstacles that await him, Wishart’s number one goal is to finish each race in under four hours, and while he knows that his first marathon in Antarctica can easily wipe out that aspiration, “I just want to enjoy it and take in the scenery and get through it without getting frostbite,” he added. “But once I get to the last six, I would like to hope and think that I can run them in under four (hours).”

But while Antarctica seems so far away, the supporters that he encounters daily haven’t been, and Wishart couldn’t be happier with that.

“More and more people have been telling me how cool they think this is,” he added. “Everyone’s been like, ‘We’re going to follow you, good luck, this sound awesome.’ And this is awesome. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”