Fit Philanthropy: Grandmother to Run More Than 600 Miles in Four DesertsPosted on Mar 2nd 2010 1:00PM by Deborah Dunham
After watching her step-daughter endure years of struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, 57-year-old Linda Quirk is enduring challenges of her own to raise $1 million for Caron Treatment Centers by running across four of the world's largest deserts.
As part of her Run 7 on 7 movement, the grandmother of three has completed an 11-month grueling adventure of running seven marathons on seven continents which she kicked off in April 2008 with the Boston Marathon and continued through March 2009 by running The Great Wall of China, Kenya (Safaricom), Easter Island, Reykjavik, Melbourne and the freezing glaciers of Antarctica.
Now the Jacksonville, Fla. native is lacing up her shoes again in pursuit of her next extreme endeavor -- to be the first woman to complete the harshest desert ultramarathon races in the world in under a year. "Only a handful of other people have completed this goal," Linda said. "I want a real endurance endeavor that will set me apart."
Watch the video below to see Linda in action. Story continues after the clip.
Linda's journey will begin next week as she travels to Chile, South America to run 155 miles across the Atacama Desert, known to be the planet's driest desert composed mostly of salt, sand and lava. In fact, it's 50 times drier than Death Valley in Calif., the site of the infamously tough Badwater Ultramarathon where runners' shoes can literally melt on the fiery-hot roads.
Linda will then travel to China in June to run another 155 miles across the Gobi Desert, where temperatures hover around freezing, even in the summer. From there, the ultra-runner will make her way to Egypt in October for the 155-mile Sahara Race, and if she completes all three of these events, her "reward" will be an entry into November's Last Desert Ultramarathon in Antarctica -- the coldest and windiest place on earth.
Having already gathered $370,000 for Caron's scholarship fund -- which enables dozens of people to go through this innovative drug and alcohol treatment, Linda hopes to not only raise another $630,000 towards her goal, but to also raise awareness and acceptance for anyone who struggles with addiction. "Caron Treatment Centers helped my step-daughter completely turn her life around, now it's my mission to not only help others who need treatment, but to change people's mindsets and stigmas about this disease."
What began as a personal family issue now spans a global movement as Linda will not only be running in other countries, but meeting with other treatment centers. "Everyone knows someone who has been affected and other countries are welcoming me with open arms to talk about this," Linda said. "I want people to know that with good treatment, those who are recovering from addiction can lead happy, productive lives."
She also wants others to dream big -- including her step-daughter who now runs a half-marathon for every race Linda does. "I have a personal motto: If you can see it, you can do it and if you believe it, it will happen. I never limit myself. Ever."
To follow Linda's journey through the deserts or to donate to her cause where 100 percent of the funds go towards Caron's scholarships, visit Run 7 on 7.
What's next on your list? How about training for a marathon this year?