WASHINGTON - A Virginia woman is preparing for an incredible race that spans around the world. BethAnn Telford will run seven marathons, in seven days, on all seven continents.
Making the journey even more difficult - Telford has brain cancer. It is something that has hurt her body, but also served as an inspiration. She said she has raised more than $800,000 since she was diagnosed more than a decade ago and hopes the donations from these races will get her to the $1 million mark.
Telford lives in Fairfax County and works in Washington D.C. for the U.S. Government Publishing Office. It was during the Marine Corps Marathon in 2004 when Telford got the first sign of the tumor in her brain.
"Mile 19 and I felt a huge pop in my head, almost like going up in a plane," Telford said. "The hardest thing in my life so far was telling my parents that their child was probably going to die from brain cancer."
Since then, she has kept fighting and kept running.
"I've gone through several brain surgeries, had to learn to talk again, walk again, slowly jog and then run," she said.
After countless hours of training, she will begin the World Marathon Challenge on Monday. She will race in Antarctica, Chile, Miami, Madrid, Morocco, Dubai and Sydney. Temperatures will range from 90 to 100 degrees in Dubai to -20 degrees in Antarctica.
Telford will run more than 183 miles total and spend about 60 hours in the air. Making that even more difficult are the physical consequences of her cancer and treatment.
"I'm blind in my left eye," she said. "I have not driven in the last 12 years because I seizure. I also have a major issue with my bladder. Due to my brain cancer, my bladder shut down several years ago."
Because she uses a catheter, she said the biggest concern isn't the long distances, but the bathroom breaks.
Her shoes will help inspire her. She plans to rotate 14 pairs of sneakers designed by pediatric cancer patients.
"So I just have to look down or remember all these kids that I have been blessed to come in contact with and know that is what this is all about," Telford said. "It is not me traveling the world. It is not me proving I can do this. It is we need to find a cure."
She is raising money for the D.C. nonprofit Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure. Telford said even when she crosses the final finish line, the real race is far from over.
"My finish line is when you tell people on the news that we found a cure for cancer," she said.
For more information on Telford's marathon challenge or to make a donation, go to www.teambt.org