Six days, six continents, six marathons: one man’s staggering feat

Joe Gagnon ran marathons and boarded long-haul flights straight after.

Joe Gagnon ran marathons and boarded long-haul flights straight after. Photo: Supplied

At the age of 39, a failed arm-wrestle changed the life of New York businessman Joe Gagnon.

Killing time with colleagues after a work event, Joe found he couldn’t win a single contest. It was the “wake-up call” that got him out of the “greatest rut in his life”.

Joe, who couldn’t run a mile at the time, vowed to get fit.

Instead of working 100 hours a week, the self-confessed workaholic decided he would work 70 hours, exercise for 20 hours, and read and write for 10 hours.

“I’m a volume man,” Joe tells The New Daily, in a masterpiece of understatement.

“There’s 168 hours in a week. I want to use them all.”

Three weeks ago, at the age of 56, Joe ran six marathons in six days on six different continents to raise money for Project Bright Light, a charity which funds poverty-stricken children to attend school. 

He started in Sydney on April 10, before flying to and running in Singapore, Johannesburg, London, Sao Paulo and Los Angeles, finishing on April 15.

“It’s all about mindset. I knew it would be hard so I didn’t over-react,” Joe says of the challenge of taking long-haul flights the day he completed 42-kilometre runs.

His shortest plane ride took nine hours.

The endurance glutton says the running was hard and his ankles were swollen but he felt “energised” by the experience.

“I wasn’t at all worn out, I wasn’t really tired at the end,” he says.

“It took me to another level in my soul. I get faster with each marathon.”

Joe Gagnon gave up his workaholic lifestyle to focus on his fitness.

Joe Gagnon gave up his workaholic lifestyle to focus on his fitness.

Joe has completed 50 marathons and in the past 10 years has covered over 200,000 kilometres running and biking.

His mantra is ‘Dream it. Plan it. Practise it. Do it.’

His motivation is to inspire others, especially young people. 

“I was making a lot of money,” he explains.

“But everything that everyone measured me by – money, status, who cares?

“I’ve had a good life. My mission needs to be for others to have the same. I want the next generation to have every opportunity possible.”

Joe says fitness is a great metaphor for anyone seeking change.

“It’s measurable, visual. Fitness is something you can control. Exercise helps you get smarter, it improves your neuroplasticity.

“When your body is stronger, you are capable of doing more things, you start feeling better and you see things differently.”

Joe writes daily about “life, learning and fitness” on his blog The High Performance Life, soon to spawn a book.

“I don’t drink booze, life is my drug…” he says.

And he gets high on helping others.

“We can do more than we think we can. We are stronger together and we need to demonstrate, not just talk about, how we can create a better world.”

After completing this stupendous marathon feat, finding something more improbable to achieve might be Joe’s biggest challenge.

Joe’s six-marathon diet

Joe aimed to consume 3000 – 3500 calories per day. While running, he took in “liquid calories” only, electrolyte-laden beverages.

After each run: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. “Good taste and carbohydrates, salt and fats in combination.”

On flights: protein bars.

Before running in the morning: as much toast and eggs as he wanted.

At airports: vegetables, bread and cheese and a dessert.

And, crucially, he avoided airline food!

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