Vinecki completes seven-continent quest

Over the summer we brought you the story of Winter Vinecki, the teenager with the goal of becoming the youngest person to run a marathon on seven continents.

After a quest that took Vinecki from the United States to Kenya, Antarctica, Peru, Mongolia, New Zealand and, finally, Greece, she reached her goal on Sunday at the finish line of the Athens Classic Marathon. Vinecki completed marathon No. 7 in 4:03:53 on the course that followed part of the original Olympic run from Marathon to Athens in 1896.

Vinecki ran the marathons to raise money and awareness for the fight against prostate cancer, which took the life of her father, Michael, in 2009. She set up Team Winter, a non-profit organization, as a 9-year-old to fund prostate cancer research, and to date has raised more than $400,000.

In addition to becoming the youngest runner ever to complete the 26.2-mile runs on seven continents, Winter and her mother, Dawn Estelle, became the first mother-daughter duo to accomplish the feat. Estelle finished Sunday in 6:23:36.

"The world record is not for me but for the one in six men and families affected by prostate cancer," said Vinecki by email from Athens. “I could not have done this without the village of supporters that helped me and those people who believed in a 9-year-old girl's dream. My run coach, Mark Hadley, assured me that age and gender are not barriers. It took me five years to fulfill this dream. As my dad taught me, never give in."

Vinecki's best time in the seven races came in her first marathon in Eugene, Ore., in April of 2012, when she ran 3:45:04. Many of the races she entered were challenging events in difficult conditions, such as in Antarctica, Mongolia and Peru, where she was the women’s overall winner of the Inca Trail Marathon and set a course record with a time of 9:18:44.

Vinecki, also a two-time IronKids national triathlon champion, spends most of her time with a host family in Park City, Utah, where she trains as an aerial skier. Estelle is a doctor in Salem, Ore.

The previous youngest runner to complete seven marathons on seven different continents was American Sarah Oliphant, who was 15 in 2010. According to Thom Gilligan, president of Marathon Tours & Travel and founder of the Seven Continents Club, 489 runners have completed marathons on seven continents.