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Packing for a Marathon Run Through Seven Continents in Seven Days



Next month, if all goes according to plan, Becca Pizzi will tear through 32,000 airline miles in about 70 hours and run 183 miles in a week.

The 35-year-old, who lives near Boston, has spent all year training for the 2016 World Marathon Challenge: seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

Her journey begins on Jan. 17 when she travels to Chile to meet up with race organizers and the 14 other competitors. They will fly as a group to Union Glacier, in Antarctica, where the first marathon is scheduled for Jan. 23, weather permitting. Organizers have set a three-day window for the start.

Finishers then compete in the next marathon on the following day in Punta Arenas, in southern Chile. Then it is off to Miami for marathon No. 3. Marathons four, five and six are scheduled for Madrid; Marrakesh, Morocco; and Dubai. The final marathon will take place in Sydney, on day seven. A marathon is 26.2 miles.

Of the seven locales, Miami is the only one Ms. Pizzi has been to.

“It’s a chance to inspire people, especially my daughter Taylor, who’s 7. I want to show her that anything is possible,” she says.

Ms. Pizzi has been running competitively since her high school years in Belmont, Mass., but lately she has been venturing further afield.

When she lined up at the start of the Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, in June, she expected to hear the usual speech welcoming runners to the event. “Instead, they gave us an ‘if you see a bear’ tutorial and I lost my mind,” she recalls. “They said to act tall. Act tall? I’m 5-foot-1!”

Ms. Pizzi finished the race without incident, placing 11th among women. She did see a moose. “You don’t get that in Boston,” she says.

Alaska marked the 25th state in which Ms. Pizzi has run a marathon. She is on a quest to hit all 50.

For the World Marathon Challenge, Ms. Pizzi says she is allowed to bring two suitcases. Part of the challenge, she says, aside from all the running, is packing for subzero temperatures in Antarctica and summer in Australia.

On the glacier, she will run in a winter jacket, two long-sleeve thermal layers and two pairs of running tights, all given to her by Lululemon, one of her product sponsors.

She will also be wearing heavyweight knee-high compression socks, gloves, mittens, a balaclava, face mask and sunglasses. January temperatures often hover around 4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

“They said to keep every inch of skin covered. I heard one runner got frostbite last year, and that’s too close for comfort for me,” Ms. Pizzi says. She will also bring Yaktrax, which are worn over sneakers to provide traction on snow and ice.

Ms. Pizzi trained outside throughout Boston’s brutal 2015 winter and has run 15 Boston marathons. (She and her sister Kristin had finished the 2013 race and were in a cab home when the bombing attack took place.) She always carries a Boston Marathon backpack when traveling.

The World Marathon Challenge cost $36,000 to enter, and Ms. Pizzi has raised about 75% of the entry fee from three sponsors: Ultima Replenisher, a maker of electrolyte drink mix, Dr. Cool, which makes ice wraps, and Lyon-Waugh Auto Group, a local car dealership. She expects to drink four or five Ultima packets a day on the trip, and she’s bringing three Dr. Cool ice wraps to help sore muscles recover during flights. “Every plane has a freezer,” she says.

Ms. Pizzi paid the rest of the fee out of pocket. She has two day jobs: managing Moozy’s Ice Cream shop in Belmont, and running a day-care center out of her house.

Other companies have provided her with equipment: During hot-weather races, she’ll be sporting an Orange Mud hydration pack. Sneaker-maker Brooks sent her eight pairs of Adrenaline running shoes—she plans to bring four pairs on the trip. She wears a Spibelt around her waist, in which she keeps Gu Roctane energy gel packs, lip balm and a snapshot of her daughter at a ballet recital.

Ms. Pizzi’s training schedule is rigorous. On a typical day, she leads a track workout at 5 a.m. with her running club. At 6:30 she is on her way to the ice-cream shop to do inventory and other administrative work, then heads home to shower and get her daughter ready for school by 8:30. She then runs the day-care center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 4:30 it is time for Taylor’s dance class, which is in a gym where Ms. Pizzi will work out with a personal trainer, or she’ll do CrossFit or a yoga class. Or, she might go for another run.

The World Marathon Challenge sets an eight-hour limit per race. Winners will be measured by the fastest combined marathon results. She is shooting for a pace of 3 hours and 50 minutes for each marathon. Apart from the Antarctica leg, all flights will be on commercial airlines in business class. The seats will be spacious, but they won’t be beds.

The runners will only have about 12 hours on each continent, and Ms. Pizzi says she wants to make the most of it all. “I’ll sleep in February. That’s been my motto.”

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