WASHINGTON - A Virginia athlete returned Wednesday from an incredible journey that took her around the world, and what she accomplished along the way is nothing short of amazing. Bethann Telford ran seven marathons in just seven days, one on each of the seven continents of the world.
That's something very few people in the world will ever accomplish, but Telford's journey was made more challenging because of something else. She has brain cancer, and has been battling it for more than a decade. For Telford, completing the World Marathon Challenge was something she wanted to do to fight back and bring awareness to the disease.
Only 33 people from 13 countries around the world took part in the World Marathon Challenge-- 25 men and eight women. Telford was the only American woman to participate. She joined FOX 5's Jim Lokay live in studio on Thursday night, with her medals proudly displayed around her neck.
"I was looking for something epic to do to get the word out. Not just in the United States but globally, and what better way to use my abilities as an endurance athlete to run around the world, and run around the world to help defeat brain cancer," Telford said during the interview.
Telford was literally in the middle of running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2004 when she realized something was wrong. She was on mile 19 at Hains Point when she felt a pop in her head, and it turned out to be the first sign. She's been through several surgeries since then, but all the way, she has kept fighting.
How does one prepare to run 183 miles in just a week? Telford credits a team of supporters and other athletes, including her trainer, for helping her get through it. She simulated the seven marathons in seven days in the states before the real thing, and trained multiple times per day leading up to the challenge.
Telford ran 26.2 miles in Antarctica, Chile, Miami-- where she was happy to welcome a huge contingent of friends and family, Madrid, Morocco, Dubai and Sidney. She says while a lot of people thought the cold in Antarctica would be the hardest, it was Dubai's 95-degree temperatures that proved to be the most challenging.
Of course, Telford's health made the journey much more difficult. She is blind in her left eye, and uses a catheter due to a major issue with her bladder, a result of the brain cancer.
But from her feet, she found inspiration-- in 14 different pairs of shoes. New Balance sponsored her, and they used drawings submitted by pediatric cancer patients to create her them. She wore two pairs during each marathon, and all she had to do was look down to remember why the fight is so important.
She's been raising money for the DC nonprofit Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure since being diagnosed, and is very close to the $1 million mark. For more information on Telford's marathon challenge or to make a donation, go to www.teambt.org.