According to a study by Runners World, Everyday Health, only .5 percent of the US population will run a marathon in their lifetime and typically a professional marathoner will only run a maximum of 2-3 marathons each year.
But Joe Gagnon is not your average marathoner, or your average human being for that matter. By day he’s a successful entrepreneur, software executive, family man, blogger and founder of The High Performance Life. And in his spare time, he’s become a world-renowned endurance athlete pushing himself to accomplish greater goals each year. In the last 10 years alone, Gagnon has covered nearly 150K miles by foot and peddle, and has completed 27 marathons (including NY, Boston and Rome), 10 ultra marathons, 20 triathlons and 6 ironman triathlons.
He was also among the 24,000 plus athletes to run in the recent 2017 LA Marathon on March 19th. But unlike many who complete the 26-mile course and call it a year, Gagnon is only just warming up for his most unthinkable challenge yet. Starting on April 10, he will set out to run six marathons on six continents in six days to inspire the world with the motto he lives by: “We can do more than we think we can.”
Gagnon’s Six Continents Challenge has already captured media attention around the world and many are simply wondering how this improbable feat is even possible? I found out the answer to that question and more, in a recent interview with the man himself:
What made you decide to set out on this grueling around the world marathon?
I’ve been looking to take on a big challenge in 2017 and I love running, traveling, meeting people and inspiring people. It seems the world conspired in my favor this year so that I could combine what I love to do with an opportunity to bring a positive “can do message” around the globe.
The big question everyone wants to know is, how is it humanly possible to run six marathons in six different continents within six days?
Well the plan itself is simple, yet risky. It took four months of carefully selecting running routes, booking direct flights from country to country, contacting local community ambassadors to help with the ground co-ordination and also planning my nutrition needs. Each day there is about 12 hours of travel and 12 hours dedicated to running, meeting the communities, getting to and from the airport and through immigration. The logistics are critical and there is definitely no room for error for me to pull this off.
Can you give us an idea of what your itinerary looks like?
Sure. On April 10th, I’ll be in Sydney to run the first marathon. It starts at 8 a.m. with my target finish for 12:30 p.m., which will give me time for a quick meet and greet, then off to the airport for my flight to Singapore.
I arrive in Singapore early the next day to run the second marathon at 8 a.m. I’ll have more time to meet community participants before getting back to the airport for my 1a.m. flight to Johannesburg.
I’ll arrive in Johannesburg at 6:30 a.m. to run the third marathon at 9 a.m. Then shower, eat, meet and greet before heading back to the airport for my 8:25 p.m. flight to London.
I get in to Heathrow at around 6:30 a.m., and have to get to Windsor Castle by 8 a.m. to run the fourth marathon. More time eat and meet everyone before catching my flight to Sao Paolo at 10 p.m.
At 5:35 a.m., I’ll arrive in San Paulo to run the fifth marathon at 9 a.m. with my goal to finish at 12:30 pm. More eating and greeting before I head back to the airport for my last flight at 10:10 p.m. to Los Angeles.
I arrive in LA at 7:30 a.m. and will start running the sixth and final marathon at 9 a.m. When I finish at New Roads School in Santa Monica, I’ll be greeted by THPL supporters and will likely be celebrating with a huge amount of ice cream!
How do you train for something like this?
I run 10-16 miles a day and I also scheduled in two marathons as part of my training. In January, I placed third in the Arizona Dessert Classic Marathon and then I ran the LA Marathon on March 19. I also do long runs the day before and after each marathon.
I’ve been flying a red-eye flight at least once a week and running at least 13 miles when I get off the plane to prepare for the load and strain that I will be putting on my body. I also do a lot of upper body fitness such as push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups so that I have a strong body overall. Not to mention I’ve been doing all of this while working full time and keeping a busy travel schedule.
Have you always been a high achiever or did something set you on this path?
None of us set out to be remarkable. Our lives are just that, “our lives.” But what I figured out early on is that the choices I make, the effort I put in, and the personal accountability that I take for my results allow me to create a more remarkable version of my life.
But I admit, I’ve always somewhat of an over-the-top, nomadic explorer. I like to put myself in challenging environments and see what comes of it, what I learn, what I accomplish, how I feel. It all comes together in a very full life that brings me to a level of personal fulfillment.
You founded The High Performance Life to inspire others. Tell us about that.
THPL is my daily blog that discusses how each and every one of us can live a high performance life. By following a set of practices, techniques and thought processes, THPL is about creating a better version of “me” on a daily basis. It’s finding out that we can do more than we think we can by focusing on three core pillars; Life, Learning and Fitness. And when lived actively, we find our path to personal fulfillment along our life journey
People go to the THPL website to connect with an entire community of those who share their personal experiences, goals and suggestions about living THPL.
You also have a book coming out, “The High Performance Life…Dream it, Plan it, Practice it, Do it.”
Yes I’m very excited about it. “The High Performance Life” is a guidebook for anyone who wants to become a high performance version of themselves. It combines practical strategies, inspirational guidance and personal stories that will enable you to combine Life, Learning and Fitness, and immediately start on your path to becoming the best possible version of who you truly are.
For those who still don’t plan on running a marathon in their lifetime, how do you hope the Six Continents Challenge will inspire global greatness?
To inspire others is to cause action. I’m hopeful that by taking on this extreme challenge, one that is on the fringes of possibility, one that requires planning, execution, community, resolve and good spirit, that others will start to create their own dreams. I want people to say, “Wow, if he can do that...then I can do this!” Indeed, that is the story of THPL in a nutshell.
To find out more about Joe Gagnon and The High Performance Life, go to: www.thehighperformancelife.net
Proceeds from Joe Gagnon’s Six Continent Challenge will go towards education for young people in developing countries. If you would like to find out more or make a donation, go to: www.ChimeIn.org/ProjectBrightLight