With some emotional help from their friends, two Eastern Iowa women finished a marathon of marathons Monday.
Deb Carneol of North Liberty and Sarah Lacina of Marion were among 50 people from around the world who completed this year’s World Marathon Challenge. They ran a marathon each day for seven days on seven continents, going from Antarctica to Africa to Australia to Asia to Europe to South America to Monday’s finale in Miami Beach, Fla.
Running with a sore knee she said was “the size of a softball” and a flaring Achilles tendon, Lacina nonetheless had her fastest 26.2-mile run of the seven Monday, finishing in 4 hours, 23 minutes and 45 seconds.
Carneol came in about 31 minutes later. Both ran between 36 and 37 hours over the seven days, which also included 27,894 miles of air travel.
“Going into today,” said the 33-year-old Lacina, “my knee hurt pretty bad. I honestly didn’t know how well I’d run.”
She knew friend JeNae Obbink of Cedar Rapids, a fellow Cedar Rapids Police Department employee, would be there to cheer her on. But she was happily surprised by the presence of three other friends, Chase Wombacher of Iowa City, Cody Wombacher of Chicago, and Kelly Wulfekuhle of Cedar Rapids. Cody Wombacher ran the entire marathon with her.
“It was like the boost I needed to get through this,” Lacina said.
She said she was “down in the dumps” when she got to Miami. Her father-in-law, Gene Wardenburg of Dysart, died last Wednesday in the Cedar Valley Hospice Home in Waterloo. His funeral is Thursday in Dysart. So Lacina’s husband, Wyatt Wardenburg, couldn’t make it to Miami.
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“I’m flying home tomorrow,” Lacina said. “I’ve been gone since the 24th. I need to see my husband and son. I need to be there for them.”
Carneol, a 51-year-old dentist, was greeted in Miami by her husband and daughter, Stephen and Avery Carneol. Also on hand were five friends she knows from Pro-Fit Gym in Coralville.
“It was spectacular today with friends and family,” Carneol said.
“It is so surreal. We were literally in Antarctica six days ago.”
“You think about that and it’s crazy,” said Lacina. “We’ve been running on three hours of sleep. This has become the norm, running every day for this long. I wonder if I’ll wake up tomorrow and think I have to run.”
Carneol isn’t returning home until Wednesday.
“I need one day with no travel,” she said. “I want to sleep in a bed for more than three hours. I just don’t want to do anything tomorrow.”