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A Luxembourgish man has successfully completed seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, raising around €100,000 for charity along the way.
Leudelange resident Pit van Rijswijck finished second in the World Marathon Challenge with an average marathon time of 3h 24m 54s.
The 2023 edition of the race saw runners complete marathons in Antarctica, Cape Town (South Africa), Perth (Australia), Dubai (UAE), Madrid (Spain), Fortaleza (Brazil) and Miami (USA) from 31 January to 6 February.
Van Rijswijck spoke to RTL ten days after returning from his adventure.
A key motivation for him in taking on the challenge was wanting to test himself against other ultra-endurance runners.
His main goal, however, was to raise money for charity, having promised his father Tun - who died too young due to brain cancer - that he would do so. And it worked: "I've raised around 100,000 euros which will be given to Fondation Cancer who have supported me these last few months," he said.
The 36-year-old knows his way around the Grand Duchy's woods and countryside, having trained for more than a year ahead of completing the race.
"I ran three marathons in three days, and 30km per day for a week. The last three months have been like preparing for a normal marathon, running around a hundred kilometres per week," he continued.
What worried van Rijswijck the most was the conditions he would face, especially in Antarctica, where temperatures dropped as low as -10°C, and in Cape Town, where temperatures rose past 30°C.
"We started the challenge in Antarctica as that's where conditions are most precarious. We had to be ready to go as soon as the wind allowed. Once we got underway, the clock was ticking and the six other marathons followed," he said.
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The competition organisers chartered a private Russian plane to transport the runners around the globe. Van Rijswijck is highly aware of potential criticism from an environmental perspective.
"I'm the last to neglect sustainability. I have an electric car and solar panels," he said. "But we did it for a good cause. I ran for cancer, others did so for Alzheimer's, other for Parkinson's. Between us we raised three million euros."
After reaching the finish line in Miami, Van Rijswijck, who works for insurance company Foyer, finished with an average time of 3h 24m 54s. That left him in an impressive second place, behind American David Kilgore (2h 56m), and just ahead of Paul Box (3h 25m 43s) in third.
"I never let myself get discouraged. I knew why I was there," he said. And his family were also there in Madrid to give him an extra boost along the way.
"My children let me know that the race was potentially a bit too long. I won't be doing it again," said the runner.
But that doesn't mean he'll be hanging up his running shoes any time soon. One week after his return, his legs are feeling good again, and he's thinking about getting outside for a little jog in the sun.