WESTPORT, Conn. – Milly Wade-West, a running and strength conditioning coach at Sherpa in Westport, is tackling the challenge of running over 183.4 miles on seven continents to raise money for the Connecticut Challenge charity and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Wade-West is running seven marathons on seven continents to support Connecticut Challenge , the Fairfield-based organization that provides programs and support for cancer survivors. Wade-West has three more marathons on her odyssey, which she figures to complete next year.
She has turned her focus for the rest of this year to triathlons, beginning with the Eagleman 70.3 Ironman on Sunday, June 8, in Cambridge, Md. She hopes to qualify for this year’s Ironman world championships, which are held in Hawaii in October. She will also race the Boulder Ironman in August and Ironman Maryland in September.
With four races done in her 7 x 7 marathon challenge, Wade-West has already created special running memories. The remaining races in Antartica, Australia and Europe next year will add more. Readers can support Wade-West by making a donation on her fundraising page .
“I came up with the idea when I was in college,’’ Wade-West said. “I wanted to do something with my running that was outside the box. It’s straightforward to make a time goal with running. I wanted to do something that was a little bit different and expand my knowledge. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my ability to run.”
Wade-West ran the Boston Marathon in April, and in March completed the Great Rift Valley Marathon in Kenya. She also attended a one-week running camp in the town of Iten, home to some of the world’s best marathoners.
“It’s very easy to do a marathon when when your in your own routine,’’ said Wade-West, who is sponsored by Josh Lander Health and Sport Sciences.. “It’s a different story when you go to Kenya and you’re out of your comfort zone. You’re sleeping in a bed there are bugs flying in your face all night. It’s a completely different experience.”
Wade-West completed the grueling race, at 8,000 feet altitude but for a change was not among the top finishers. “When I got to the finish line they were all packing up,’’ Wade-West said. “It really put the shoe on the other foot. My caravan driver found his sister, who was kind enough to give me her water bottle where I mixed up my recovery drinks, much to the fascination of the Kenyans.”
After the marathon, she spent a week at the running camp, where she learned training tips. “We have a tendency to run at one pace, never pushing hard enough and pushing too hard when we need to recover,’’ she said. “They know how to train properly. They really push themselves.”
Wade-West has also run marathons in Peru and Bangkok. She hopes to write a book about her journey when she is finished, and carries with her thoughts of cancer survivors as she trains and races.
“That’s why I wanted to take this on,’’ Wade-West said. “I think about what I’m doing, and all the people who have been affected by cancer. I feel fortunate to have the ability to run a marathon. Thinking about cancer survivors forces me to look at the bigger picture and get out there in the world and experience it.
"Running for cancer reminds me you have to live each day like it’s your last because it could be. Cancer takes peoples lives abruptly and it is a reminder to be thankful for what we have, just say yes and don’t make excuses why you can’t do something.”