We talk to Mike Allsop about running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days
What is your ‘impossible’ goal? For many of us, it might be a lifestyle change such as cutting out booze or sugar, a financial goal such as saving for a house deposit, or committing to a run before work every morning.
But when Mike Allsop sets himself a challenge, he doesn’t do it by halves. In fact, to say the task that the pilot has just completed is grueling is a massive understatement – to run 7 marathons on 7 continents in just 7 days.
Taking him to far flung destinations as the Falkland Islands, Chile, Great Britain, United States, Casablanca, Hong Kong and New Zealand, Mike used the 777 Project to inspire disadvantaged children and raise $10,000 for the children’s’ charity KidsCan.
We chatted with Mark about dreaming big dreams, overcoming physical and mental barriers and what kept him going when the going got tough.
How did the idea come about to do 7 marathons in 7 days?
I read Sir Ranphaulf Finnes book "Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know.” At the time I was in search for a new challenge. Something that to me seemed impossible, like climbing Mt Everest! I came up with 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. This was ‘the impossible’ for me. Especially since I had never run a marathon before.
How did you go about physically preparing for 7 marathons in 7 days?
I just started running, then realised I wasn't that good at running.... So I hopped onto YouTube and learnt how to run properly by watching videos. The next step was to find a great trainer.
How do you mentally prepare?
The mental aspect is the hardest! I have picked up many tricks and tips from all of my expeditions, and also from climbing Mt Everest. But the crucial ingredients are focus and commitment.
Why is charity KidsCan close to your heart?
My wife wanted me to support KidsCan so I went to see them, they are a fantastic charity doing great work - helping under privileged children directly in NZ.
What was the most challenging marathon for you?
Without a doubt, Casablanca Africa. After 1 km my left calf seized up and I couldn't run. I would stretch it, run 100m and then stop and stretch it again. It came right after an hour but at the 25km mark my feet were so painful, they felt like they had been smashed with hammers. I hobbled to the finish.
My wife Wendy got in touch with a USANA Health Sciences Doctor who reviewed my supplements and said I wasn't taking enough Calcium and Magnesium. I upped my dose accordingly and unbelievably 18 hours later in Hong Kong my feet were fine - not sore at all.
You visit high schools as an inspirational speaker to talk about the power of goal setting. If there was one key point you would want school kids to remember about goal setting, what would it be?
1. Dream big, the more you dream the better and more refined your goals.
2. Break your big goals down into small manageable parts
3.Most importantly - NEVER GIVE UP! If you don’t give up you will never fail.
Your climbing career has spanned over six continents – what has been your favourite destination?
Nepal and the Himalayas. I just love the sherpas, they are so humble and friendly. I take each of my three children on their own when they turn seven to see Everest. It takes about 10 days and we trek over 70kms from 8000ft- 14,000ft. We stay with my Sherpa friends and experience the Sherpa culture.
When it gets tough, what keeps you going?
My focus, I narrow my focus down. On Everest when it got really tough and dangerous I focused on the next single step. With the 777project it was 1km by 1km when things got tough.
What techniques do you use when you are reaching your physical and emotional limit?
I separate the two emotions when I'm on my expeditions. As I approached the summit of Everest I got emotional for a few seconds, 10 years of dreaming, working hard, training and now I was about to step onto the summit of Mt Everest... tears welled up in my eyes. Then a switch flicked in my head and I realized there was NO place for emotion, your eyes would freeze for a start; it’s just too dangerous. You do your job, you stay focused... emotion clouds your judgment and there is no place for it on an Everest summit day.
Physical limits are different, personally I imagine myself achieving more, like running 9 marathons in 9 days that way your subconscious mind thinks that's what you are going to do. But physically in the moment I concentrate on the next step. The next 1km. That way I don't get overwhelmed. Finishing each marathon I was a wreck, but I focused on recovery. My USANA Health Sciences supplements, ice bath, skins... not the next 5 or 6 marathons, as I would be overwhelmed.
To find out more about Mike’s incredible adventure and how the funds he raised are helping disadvantaged children, visit www.777project.co.nz