• Image about antarctica-erin-sprague-australia-ing-new-york-city-marathon-americanway

HEALTH

AT 24 YEARS AND 227 days old, Erin Sprague became the youngest woman to run a marathon on every continent. But she didn’t just run for herself; she ran for female empowerment, aboriginal advancement, and an array of good causes through a nonprofit she cofounded called In the Running. You, too, can run for good causes around the world or locally, so strap up your laces and start training. Just remember -- you don’t have to break any records to make a difference. Here, Sprague talks about her ambitious undertaking.


How did In the Running develop?
It started with me and a colleague in 2006. My personal goal was to be the youngest woman to run a marathon on all seven continents, but then I realized it was bigger than [that] … I needed to do something greater, to raise funds and awareness for grassroots causes. The idea was to use the story of my international marathon quest to raise awareness for the organizations.

Why did you choose running as your sport?
Sometimes I wonder if I’m running away from something, but the truth is I’ve always loved to run. The best part of running is [that] it reveals itself in different ways for different people each time you do it. Each time is a different challenge; each time I find a part of myself to overcome that challenge. Everyone, whether you’ve run many marathons or it’s your first, must do that.

Why run for a good cause?
It’s a great way to gain a spot in a marathon, and charities usually set up training programs for you. I truly believe anybody can run a marathon. Buy a pair of shoes, go out there, and do it.


Seven Organizations that in the Running Supports


AFRICA
KENWA: The Kenya Network of Women with HIV/AIDS
Offers support to individuals with AIDS, who are often shunned by their communities (Kilimanjaro Marathon, Tanzania)

ANTARCTICA
Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition

Works to preserve Antarctica’s ecosystem, monitors activities on the continent, and provides a voice for environmental issues (Antarctica Marathon, Antarctica)

ASIA
Polaris Project

Identifies and helps victims of slavery and manages a multilingual hotline on human trafficking (ANA Beijing Marathon, China)

AUSTRALIA
The Silver-Lining Foundation’s Enterprise Program

Selects four aboriginal Young Entrepreneurs and instills confidence and skills in the youth of a historically marginalized people (Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Australia)

EUROPE
Co-operation Ireland

Helps groups identify conflicts, break sectarianism, and promote peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Adidas Dublin Marathon, Ireland)

NORTH AMERICA
Girls on the Run

Focuses on developing the physical and mental health of adolescent girls through exercise, experimental learning, and mentorship (ING New York City Marathon, United States)

SOUTH AMERICA
A Drop in the Ocean

Provides local organizations with small loans and technical assistance, and volunteers to build infrastructure in poverty-stricken areas (São Paulo International Marathon, Brazil)


FIVE GOOD CAUSES TO RUN FOR CLOSER TO HOME


Find a marathon in your hometown, and run for one of its partner charities. Here are our choices of the coolest charities.

MARATHON FOR THE CURE, SPONSORED BY SUSAN G. KOMEN FOR THE CURE
Seeks to empower people with breast cancer and find a cure for the disease www.marathonforthecure.org

SHOE4AFRICA
Started by collecting shoes for Africans and is now building a children’s hospital in Kenya www.shoe4africa.org

BACK ON MY FEET
Promotes self-sufficiency of the homeless through running www.backonmyfeet.org

THE LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY’S TEAM IN TRAINING
Funds research to find a cure for the disease www.teamintraining.org

TEAM ASHA
Focuses on educating underprivileged children in India www.team-asha.org