From Canada to Chile with a stop in Antarctica along the way, 15-year-old Kristen De Sousa became one of the youngest runners to complete seven marathons on all seven continents. She ran them over the course of three months, and on Thursday completed an ultra marathon in Punta Arenas for her final race - that's just over 31 miles.
Remarkably, the young athlete only started running 11 months ago.
"Prior to that, I couldn't even run 800 metres on sports day!" Kristen tells the Good News blog. "It started with my mom and her friends talking about doing a marathon challenge. They offered the idea to me and my first response was, "Absolutely no way!"… but the thought never left my mind for weeks, this was such an amazing opportunity and I knew I would regret it if I didn't take advantage."
Kristen, who was born in Canada and currently resides in Dubai, began training with speed and interval sessions five days a week, adding one long run of about 19 miles during the weekend. By November 3rd, 2013, she was ready for her first marathon in Ontario.
The teenager finished, and went on to complete the Central Coast Marathon in Australia on November 23rd, Aspen Marathon in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on December 7th, Pisa Marathon in Italy on December 15th, Doha Marathon in Qatar on January 10th, White Continent Marathon on King George Island in Antarctica on January 26th, and finally, the ultra marathon in Chile on January 30th.
Kristen worked with an osteopath and sports psychologist along the way to assist with injuries and mental challenges.
"Although I developed a chest infection and the flu a couple days before the Australia marathon, which certainly tested my strength and determination during that race, The White Continent Marathon in Antarctica was definitely the most challenging," she remembers. "The temperature was -18 degrees C (-4 degrees F) with the wind chill, and there were very strong winds. The terrain was also difficult as there was slippery snow and ice, gravel, mud, which was like quick sand and rocks, which were very hard to run on."
Of all the races, Kristen says the ultra marathon was her favorite. She decided to take on the challenge as a means of topping herself, and says when you get into that much mileage, a few more doesn't make much of a difference.
"I thought it would be cool to finish big," Kristen remarks.
Not only did Kristen come out triumphantly, she was able to raise $6,000 for children in Nepal. The money will be put toward Children of the Mountain, a nonprofit that helps provide education for students and teachers.
What's next for the amazing athlete? Relaxing, she says, if that's possible.
"My next challenge will be how long I can stay in bed for," she jokes. "To be honest, I have no idea what's next for me. For the while, I want to let all my injuries heal fully and do a few half marathon races here and there while I do that. Once I'm fully healed, I plan to participate in the crazy, fun marathons such as the glow in the dark one or the themed ones or the Disney one as well as challenge myself in more strenuous marathons."
More of the Good News:
Couple Fulfills Mission to Run 366 Marathons in 366 Days on Raw, Vegan Diet
After Losing Both Legs, This Boston Marathon Victim is Running Again
Marathoner is Running 500 Miles from Maine to the Super Bowl for Wounded Vets