It’s 1600 and I am lacing up my sneakers. I head down to the lower decks where I will spend the next hour or so. No, I am not working overtime, I am going for a run.

The other officers have stopped asking, “oh, are you going to run today?” Instead, they stop me afterwards to say, “so how much did you run?” Every single time, their reaction is the same,“wow.”

Today, I am running 7 miles. And while I say that like it’s nothing, it is far from it. 7 miles is a challenge. It is also just a stepping stone to what I am running towards: The World Marathon Challenge (WMC). The WMC is a relatively new racing event, where competitors run 7 marathons, on 7 continents, in 7 days.

So in comparison to the 183.4 miles in a week, 7 miles today seems like nothing. But still, I’m only human and I’m also a novice runner.

As if training for the WMC wasn’t a challenge in itself, I have the added *challenge* of living on a ship, without a treadmill. So every day when I head down for my run, I am not running along a trail in the woods or a boardwalk at the beach. I’m not even running on a treadmill in the local gym. I am running a 0.17 mile loop on one of the cargo decks on my ship.

Before deciding if I was really going to do this, I spoke with two 2018 WMC finishers. One of them, Kelly McLay, was saying how running is the easy part of the WMC and how it is a mental challenge. When I told her about my maritime lifestyle, and having to deal with obstacles such as no treadmill and running on the ship and being out of my element, she said how that was a good thing and how for most people the biggest obstacle was that they were running in different conditions than they were used to. People get comfortable running their usual track and then do this challenge and the different terrain or conditions really throws them off. I LOVED this way of looking at it. I thought that living on a ship would be such a challenge, but really, it’s just preparing me even more for what is to come.

World Marathon Challenge Finisher Kelly McLay in Antarctica. Photo credit: Global Running Adventures (

Kelsey Ireland

About The Author: Kelsey Ireland

Kelsey Ireland studied Marine Transportation at SUNY Maritime College. Upon graduating in January 2017, she sailed on Lindblad Expeditions’ cruise ship, the National Geographic Quest. Later on, she joined the American Merchant Officers’ Union and has since sailed as 3rd Mate in the Military Sealift Command Fleet. Coming from a long family line of mariners, Kelsey is the first woman in her family to work offshore and currently holds the family record for working on the largest vessel (949 ft / 69,3675 GT).

Pin It on Pinterest