By Jeremy Beale, Marine Corps Base Quantico
Forty-seven year old, retired Marine Maj. Shalisa Davis, returned to Quantico Marine Corps Information Operations Center, where she works, after becoming the first African American woman to finish seven marathons in seven days across seven continents.
Pushing through sleep-depravation, physical exhaustion and illness, Davis ran over 183 miles, thus completing a seven part marathon series.
Being recognized by the MCIOC team, she received the gift of a black and silver globe for finishing what is called the Triple 7 Quest—a running event which brings runners from all around the world to compete in a series of seven marathons.
The Triple 7 Quest:
• Day one: Perth, Australia – Australia Day Marathon
• Day two: Singapore, Asia – Singapore Beach Marathon
• Day three: Cairo, Egypt – Marathon Cairo
• Day four: Amsterdam, Netherlands – The Sri Chimnoy Marathon and Half-Marathon
• Day five: New York, United States – Presidential Inauguration Marathon
• Day six: Punta Arenas, Chile – Southern Cross Marathon
• Day seven: King George Island Antarctica – White Continent Marathon
Davis described the experience as grueling agony brought on by the physical challenges and fatigue. She only slept in airports on the way to the next marathon (or on the plane) and sometimes she ate very little. However, she said if she had the chance to do it all over again, she would.
“This was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” Davis said. “If you truly want to know what you are made of and truly experience how much grit you have, do something like this.”
According to Davis, completing this marathon series was all about creating a plan to reach one ultimate goal, by pursuing smaller goals and the milestones embedded within it.
“Commit to a plan, track your progress weekly and don’t be afraid to fail along the way,” she said. “If you think you’re going to fail, adjust and attack the plan from a different angle.”
Davis said, in preparation for the “Triple 7 Quest” she ran 19 marathons, three 50ks, two 50-milers and one 24-hour race where she completed a 75-miler and 100-miler.
In 2016, she also competed in the Mainly Marathons – Dust Bowl Series consisting of six races in six states in six days.
By completing the Triple 7 Quest, she beat her personal best of seven marathons in eight days in 2015.
According to Davis, much gratitude goes out to her husband, William Perez, for gifting her with the opportunity to run in the marathon.
When her husband signed her up for the Triple 7 Quest, he enabled her to complete one of her ultimate goals—the “Marathon Hat Trick.”
According to the National Black Marathon Association, the organization she ran with, Davis became part of less than 100 runners to complete the hat trick.
The “Marathon Hat Trick” consists of completing a marathon in every state including Washington, D.C., completing 100 marathons and completing a marathon on each continent.
“It takes a lot of energy to run one marathon, but to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents takes a lot of stamina and focus,” Tony Reed, the NBMA’s executive director said in response to Davis’ accomplishment.
In 2016, she ran over 100 marathons. She completed her number 100 on March 13 at the Newport News Marathon in Virginia; she completed her 50th state, Sept. 4, at the Kauai Marathon in Hawaii.
According to an NBMA press release, Davis could be eligible to break a Guinness World Record, currently held by Maria Conceicao, who completed seven marathons in 10 days, 23 hours and 40 seconds two years prior.
Davis beating this time by over three days has decided to submit an application into the Book of Alternative Records, due to tougher regulations by Guinness. Regardless of Davis breaking the record, NBMA’s Distance Running Hall of Fame will recognize her at the GO! St. Louis Marathon, April 8.
The GO! St. Louis Marathon is one of many marathons she has set her sights on in 2017. Also, inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s participation in the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon, Davis will run in the 42nd MCM, Oct. 22 in Arlington, Va.
“Running a single marathon is a major life changing experience where only .5 percent of the U.S. population can claim this achievement,” said Rick Nealis, director of MCM. “For retired Major Lisa Davis to run seven marathons, in seven days and on seven continents is simply amazing. Her dedication, determination and physical courage during her training and execution of running 183 miles in a week are nothing short of being heroic.”
According to Nealis the MCM looks forward to having her on their start line in October.