AT 24 YEARS AND 227 days old, Erin Sprague became the youngest woman to run a marathon on every continent. But she didnt 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 dont 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 Im running away from something, but the truth is Ive 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 youve run many marathons or its your first, must do that.
Why run for a good cause? Its 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
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)
Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition
Works to preserve Antarcticas ecosystem, monitors activities on the continent, and provides a voice for environmental issues (Antarctica Marathon, Antarctica)
Identifies and helps victims of slavery and manages a multilingual hotline on human trafficking (ANA Beijing Marathon, China)
The Silver-Lining Foundations 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)
Helps groups identify conflicts, break sectarianism, and promote peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Adidas Dublin Marathon, Ireland)
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)
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
Started by collecting shoes for Africans and is now building a childrens hospital in Kenya www.shoe4africa.org
BACK ON MY FEET
Promotes self-sufficiency of the homeless through running www.backonmyfeet.org
THE LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETYS TEAM IN TRAINING
Funds research to find a cure for the disease www.teamintraining.org
Focuses on educating underprivileged children in India www.team-asha.org