Around world in seven days: Marines complete World Marathon Challenge

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. —From the very beginning, Marines are trained to endure different environmental conditions and maintain and improve combat effectiveness. Some have taken the concept and applied it to other ambitious endeavors.

Capt. Daniel T. Cartica and Capt. Calum Ramm, who participated in the World Marathon Challenge Jan. 23–30, are two of these Marines.

The challenge is a weeklong event consisting of seven marathons spanning across each of the continents.

The marathons were held in: Union Glacier, Antarctica; Punta Arenas, Chile; Miami, Madrid, Spain; Marrakech, Morocco; Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Sydney, Australia.

Cartica and Ramm finished first and second, respectively, with Cartica finishing with a total time of 24 hours, 46 minutes and 56 seconds.

“Ramm and I ran most of the marathons together,” said Cartica. “He was in great shape, has a high tolerance and threshold for pain, and we worked together for majority of this endeavor. For a few of the marathons, there were six-to-eight-mile sections where Cal and I would just take off, and we would be running 5:30-5:40 [minute] mile pace.

“Training for this event, I don’t think I ran anything faster than 6:45 pace for some of my runs,” said Cartica.

Physically preparing began months before the marathon.

“I did not start training for this event until Oct. 10,” said Cartica. “From that point on, I ran 30 to 35 miles a week. I also did interval swimming, endurance swimming three to four times a week, and CrossFit Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.”

Mentally preparing for the event was more important than physical preparations because of the competitors’ experience and foundation with running, according to Ramm.

“The team’s coach, Joe Puleo, gave me some sound advice, and we both trusted the fact that the years of running I had under my belt would suffice for an endurance event like this,” Ramm said.

The competitors had different reasons for running the marathons. Ramm ran to support fundraisers for ill and injured service members.

“I have been running for a long time, but is has always been to benefit myself,” said Ramm. “I tried to think of ways I could help along the same lines. Since I was a decent runner, I figured I should use my hobby to benefit others. This was pretty good motivation for me all in itself.  The [fundraisers] do such a great job getting service members back to competing and taking part in sports after their injuries, which I have always found is a great healing process.”

Cartica competed to support the service members who died during the Chattanooga shooting in 2015.

“This event was never about me, or anything I was trying to achieve or seek out, said Cartica. “The entire premise for doing this was in remembrance of the four Marines and one sailor, who were killed.”

The Marines faced many obstacles, such as lack of sleep and maintaining nutrition,

“I found out I had a stress fracture in my shin, which started mid-race in Madrid,” Ramm said. “That meant finishing the marathon in Spain with the pain, gutting it out in Morocco with even worse pain, and then heading into Dubai barely able to put weight on it.

“Before the race in Dubai, [I] noticed my leg was really swollen,” Ramm said. “I knew at this point it was going to be a rough race, and for the first nine miles we tried everything to at least numb the pain. I did not think I was going to finish the race, but was able to meet my goal and run the entire race under four hours.”

In the aftermath of the competition, Ramm hopes Marines pursue ambitions and challenges boldly.

“A lot of times, I see Marines using there leave to go home for two or three weeks and do what they were doing for the 17 years before they joined the Corps,” Ramm said. “I really like to encourage people, not just Marines, to take the time they have off and do something different, or go somewhere new.

“I think if you want to go out and do something, don’t hesitate and just do it. It’s definitely worth putting yourself out there and seeing what happens, and this trip just further fortified that in my mind.”