Marathon man shoots
to run one on every continent
By Ned Bekavac
You can’t fault Guelph’s Marek Nowakowski if he one day chooses to alter his first name a bit.
How about . . . Marekthon?
The local runner has earned it – he’s logged countless kilometres in races in various parts of the world.
And there is much more to come.
The athlete currently has a rather mighty goal – he hopes to finish a competitive marathon on every continent in the world.
He’s knocked off four already.
Nowakowski, it seems, just can’t get enough.
“With running, there is always some goal ahead of you,” he says.
“Once you complete your goal, you look for something more.”
That something more, among other things, would be three more competitive races, in three far-away places, to complete all seven continents.
He’s already run marathons in North America, South America, Europe and Africa. Still to come, he anticipates, are Asia, Australia and Antarctica.
“It’s the hardest race to get into. It’s very limited space, like 200 people only,” says Nowakowski, before describing the money, planes and boats it takes just get to the event.
“There’s a waiting list to sign up for Antarctica. You have to sign up for the waiting list probably two years ahead.”
Nowakowski, a married father of three, was born and raised in Poland. He made his way to Canada in the early ’90s and to Guelph late in that decade.
An avid cyclist back in Europe, he had to make some adjustments when he landed in the Great White North.
“When I came to Canada from Europe, I found the summer is very short here,” he says.
“So I said: ‘I have to do something the rest of the season.’”
So his run-loving wife, Ewa, got him into running.
In the mid-2000s, he tried his first half-marathon.
And so it began.
“I ran my first half-marathon in 2004 and then I said – ‘Why not try a full marathon?’” says Nowakowski.
The next year, he did a full one.
Then came another goal. He heard about how prestigious the Boston Marathon is.
He trained hard for two seasons to make it and – boom – he ran the prized Beantown event in 2007.
There were even more goals – he wanted to complete the five World Marathon Majors: The races, at the time, were in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Berlin and London, England.
He did them. Then a sixth World Marathon Major was added – Tokyo.
And now Nowakowski has the Tokyo event in his sights, which will knock off Asia as one of his completed continents as well.
There are lots of people around the world shooting to complete marathons on all the world’s continents, Nowakowski says. It’s a thing.
And while he has pals who are committed long-distance athletes, that’s not so much the case for his continents goal.
“I’ve got a couple friends who do triathlons and marathons but I didn’t find anyone that crazy, to go for seven continents,” he says with a laugh.
“It’s a pretty expensive hobby, and it’s time consuming.”
The 53-year-old, who was a national speed skater in Poland, says his running times these days are faster than they were a decade ago.
Nowakowski is not only on the road all the time with his feet, but with wheels too.
Away from running, he’s a long-haul truck driver for Laidlaw Carriers, and regularly makes treks to places like Chicago and Indianapolis.
He’s home every other day, and trains four times a week. In prep for a recent ultra marathon, he was averaging 50 to 55 miles of running a week. He also trains and competes in triathlons and such, and his next big event is in September, a half ironman in Muskoka.
Nowakowski, hobbled by some leg soreness recently, is asked if it ever gets to be too much.
“Yeah sometimes. Sometimes, even in a race, there are some points when you think: ‘What for? This pain?’” he says.
“But after a while you just quit that thinking, and you just keep going to the finish line.
“Once you cross the finish line, everything goes away, and you think about another race,” he says with a laugh.