Runners finish half-marathon through 13 countries in 24 hours

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Sixteen runners decided to take on this challenge of running a half-marathon through 13 European countries within 24 hours. They completed the challenge in May 2019.

A number of the runners are from Michigan. Although, there are runners who represented the states of California, Colorado, Wisconsin and South Carolina. Ages of the runners ranged from 23 to 72.

The adventure began at 4 a.m. on May 18 in the Czech Republic. The runners completed the half-marathon through the following countries, in order: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. 

“It was only one mile and you get back in the van, you sit a little bit, the next stop you could get back out and race again,” said one of the participants, Lisa Brink-Hansen. “That was actually a bit more challenging than I thought it was going to be. After sitting for a while, getting your legs cramped up or tight and then stretching them out again.” 

Josh Sanders, a Kalamazoo man who planned the trip, said it’s something that’s never been done before. He described it as the trip of a lifetime. 

“I was looking at races that went across multiple countries and I just thought I would Google and try to figure out you know what is the most amount of countries someone had run in a day,” said Sanders. “When I found out it was only three, I started looking at those European countries closely together and figured out a route that it looked like 13 would be possible.” 

“I wouldd say the first 21 hours went smoothly. The last three were stressful,” said Sanders. “So, when that kind of ended and that stress is over with and you realize it’s 4 a.m. and you’ve been up 25 straight hours, you’re definitely ready for the hotel bed.” 

The group not only “potentially” broke a record, they formed a forever friendship. 

“That was one of the one of the big benefits of the trip is that I met 14 new friends,” said runner Mike Hutchinson. “You can’t spend that much time with a group of people and not become friends with them.” 

To read more about the group’s ‘The Great European Half Marathon’, including the ups and downs of the trip, click here.

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