Broke marathon runner has 'lived the dream'

COOL RUNNINGS: Megan Stewart has just returned from Antarctica where she completed an ultra-marathon race.
ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAZ NZ

COOL RUNNINGS: Megan Stewart has just returned from Antarctica where she completed an ultra-marathon race.

She may be broke now but Taranaki ultra-distance runner Megan Stewart reckons she's lived the dream.

The 51-year-old has just returned from Antarctica where she completed an ultra-marathon and ticked off the final leg in the four-deserts race series.

It's taken Stewart four years to complete the mission, which included races in the Gobi, Sahara and Atacama deserts.

"I lived the dream," she said.

"I'm lucky, I'm poor but I'm lucky," she said referring to the US$12,000 it cost her to enter the Antarctica race.

Stewart said the continent was "mind-blowingly beautiful."

"It's nature at its rawest. We saw avalanches and an iceberg disintegrate, there were penguins for miles."

And running on the ice and snow was like nothing she'd experienced before.

"For the others you knew what to train for, you knew it was going to be hot but in Antarctica you can be sweating one minute and freezing the next."

Going from running on ice to pushing through knee-deep snow was another issue, she said.

"One kilometre in those conditions is like running seven kilometres on a trail."

The race itself was also quite different from the others where participants ran a marathon during the day and camped at night.

In Antarctica runners complete four legs, each with a certain length track.

"You'd run the loop as many times as you could in the allotted time," she said. While Stewart managed about 90km across the four legs she found it hard to treat the event like a race. "I don't see them as races, I see them as journeys where I'm not a competitor but a participant.

"I'd stop and pick up stones and talk to the penguins. One leg was around an abandoned whaling station and as the snow melted two crosses appeared and I couldn't help but stop."

 - Taranaki Daily News

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