East Tennessee dad runs 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Brian Winter said he normally starts his days by heading to work. He's the CEO of Pyxl, a marketing design firm based out of Knoxville.

Photo courtesy of World Marathon Challenge

When he's not in the office, he embraces his role as father to three daughters. However, in his free time, he's out on the roads.

Winter began running 22 years ago, but the miles weren't always easy.

"As a child, I battled asthma," he said.

However, that wouldn't be his only struggle on the pavement. Years later, tragedy struck Winter's life.

"My wife at the time suffered a stillborn birth and death of our daughter," he said.

Through his devastation, a doctor told him that movement could be his path to healing.

"I started running, and I would actually run from my house to the cemetery. That's about eight miles," he said.

The years went by, and the miles added up, leading to a life-changing decision.

"I was like, I'm going to run a marathon," he remembered.

That decision to run 26.2 miles was made in 1995; in 2018, he calls himself an experienced runner, with good cause.

"I've probably run 50 marathons and ultras," he said.

So what could someone that experienced, with that many miles under his belt, do next? The World Marathon Challenge -- running 183.4 miles.

Here's how it worked: Sunday, Winter ran a marathon in Alaska. Monday, he did the same in Australia. Tuesday? A marathon in Asia. He ran seven marathons in seven days, on seven different continents.

"For a very long time, I have pursued those physical and mental challenges that put me in a place that is uncomfortable and unknown," he said.

A chartered jet took him and 51 other participants from continent to continent to run the races. Sometimes, there were less than 24 hours in between the marathons when Brian would snag four to five hours of sleep.

For this distance runner, the races were less about the run time or the finish lines; instead, they were about what he could learn from them.

"People have the ability to do remarkable things, even when they have physical and mental conditions they think are going to inhibit or prevent them from achieving those dreams," he said.

Since the world challenge, Winter has stepped up his game even further. He now trains for, and runs, 50- and 100-mile races. His best 100-mile time is 24 hours and 39 minutes.

Winter also said he began training for three 200-mile races during the summer of 2018.