Chicago Marine finishes 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents - with record time

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Daniel Cartica, a U.S. Marine who teaches at Northwestern, added more than 180 miles to his trip in one of the hardest ways you could imagine. (WLS)

A U.S. Marine from Chicago is back home after a whirlwind global tour with an athletic twist that might take a moment or two to sink in.

Daniel Cartica added more than 180 miles to his trip in one of the hardest ways you could imagine: seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

Starting Saturday, January 23, day one was at Union Pass, Antarctica. From the icy course there, he hop-scotched the world to six other continents, finally finishing his amazing feat in Australia last Friday - and Cartica won the World Marathon Challenge in record time.

His trip around the world started at its bottom, Antarctica, then it was on to the Americas, over to Europe, down to Africa, across to the Middle East, then Down Under. Leading the pack in Antarctica was Cartica, a Marine who teaches at Northwestern University.

"I am always a guy who is trying to get out of his comfort zone," Cartica said.

That meant paying $23,000 for the chance to join a club more exclusive than Mount Everest climbers or the astronaut corps. After finishing, it was back into the group's Russian transport, where what little rest was to be gotten before the next marathon - in Punta Arenas, Chile.

"I wanted to do something for those family members of the servicemen that were killed," he said.

They were the five men who died in Chattanooga, Tenn., last July when they were ambushed by an armed gunman motivated, according to the FBI, by "foreign terrorist organization propaganda."

Cartica set up a GoFundMe page to raise money, but that didn't go so well. But that didn't stop him from putting in successive 3.5 hour marathons Monday in Miami, then Tuesday in Madrid. By 1 a.m. Wednesday, it was Morocco marathon time, where the cobblestones took a toll.

"It tore up my legs, it tore up the other competitors. Fatigue was setting in, nutrition depletion was definitely setting in," he said.

The nutrition was not exactly for the health-conscious, and included gels, salt tablets, salty foods, and Coca Cola. That got him to Thursday in Dubai.

"The body just locked up for me, it almost felt I had a knife constantly jabbing into my right hamstring," Cartica said.

But he persevered with thoughts of his fallen comrades.

"I like to think that assisted with me getting to the finish line," Cartica said.

That finish line was still was an ocean away, in Sydney, a race he called "brutal."

"At that point I wasn't backing down," he said.

And when Cartica crossed the line in the middle of the night, he had the fastest cumulative average time ever, but no real answer to the question that drives him.

"We try to find a way to reach our max. (What is that max?) I don't really know," he said.

His record time was an average 3 hours and 32 minutes for seven marathons. He said his next challenge is 50 Ironmans in 50 states in 50 days.

An Ironman race is a 2.5 mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, topped off by a marathon.
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