Run of a lifetime: Former Brownstown resident takes on the world


Seven marathons. Seven days. Seven continents.

It may sound crazy to attempt such a feat, but one former Brownstown resident completed that task as part of the World Marathon Challenge.

Carrie Lavigne, 54, a 1982 graduate of Brownstown Central High School who now lives in northern New York, was one of 48 participants who completed the challenge Feb. 5 in Miami, Florida.

She finished fifth out of 12 women and 19th overall.

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In between the first and final marathons, Lavigne and the other participants traveled by charter plane to Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Lisbon, Portugal; and Cartagena, Colombia, and ran 26.2 miles at each stop.

“It was even better than I could have anticipated,” she said.

After returning to New York, Lavigne decided it was time for rest.

“I slept for 36 hours straight,” she said with a laugh. “The schedule showed more downtime than we really got, so the sleep deprivation was more than I anticipated.”

The challenge was first organized in 2015, and Lavigne said she saw a story about participants on television and decided she wanted to do it.

“People miss out on a lot of experiences because they don’t take the chance,” she said.

It’s also an example for her 19-year-old daughter, Sheridan Mann.

“I don’t have to be the best at it, but just do my best,” Lavigne said.

Another reason to participate is the personal challenge.

“I want to see how much I can do and keep challenging myself,” she said.

To prepare for the rigors of running 183 miles over the course of seven days, Lavigne began running in a number of marathons and ultramarathons in April 2017.

She has finished the legendary New York Marathon and Berlin Marathon and has qualified for the Boston Marathon this spring. She competed in the ultramarathon at Camp Pyoca in Brownstown last spring.

“That was kind of nostalgic because I lived right near it growing up,” she said.

But she would not run the challenge again, and the reason is not what one might expect.

“I wouldn’t want to do it again because it was such a perfect experience,” she said. “It was just really a great experience.”

That experience was positive because of the other runners and the determination to pull through. At first, the participants were encouraging, but by the fourth race, everyone was too fatigued to share a greeting as they passed.

That is all a part of the marathon being a testament of a person’s will to succeed, Lavigne said.

“It’s amazing what your body can do,” she said. “It’s just as much mental as it is physical, and I’m still in awe about what a person’s body can do.”

Antarctica was her favorite because it was unique.

“I know I will never have that experience again,” she said. “It was the most unique experience.”

She described the land as barren but sunny.

“We were actually getting hot to begin with, but when the sun went down, we started getting cold,” she said, adding the marathon took place on a Russian base station where they were served fish soup. “People couldn’t get warm.”

An obstacle throughout the challenge was getting meals on time because everyone was off of their normal schedules and did not have regular access to food.

Runners also got lost during the race in Cartagena, and the situation became dangerous because of the traffic in the area.

“The drivers had no respect for the runners, and we didn’t know where we were going,” she said. “We were glad to leave that one because it was a little unnerving.”

But going from country to country was thrilling, she said, because even though they were only in a country for less than 24 hours, everyone could tell.

“You truly got a taste of the people and the culture and the landscape,” she said.

Her parents, Jerry and Janet Bedwell of Medora, said they followed the results online.

“This sounds exactly like something she’d do,” Janet said. “When she says she’s going to do something, you just sit back and watch it happen.”

Lavigne said she has not been a lifetime runner like many participating in the race but took up running five years ago. She ran her first marathon four days before her 50th birthday and since has completed 25 marathons and two ultramarathons, which are even greater distances.

Several years ago, running seemed impossible as she battled an autoimmune disorder that left her not wanting to get out of bed on many days. Lavigne overcame the disorder through diet and exercise and feels running has turned her life around.

“I feel like I have my life back, and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been,” she said. “Running has done so much for me physically because it has made me stronger and healthier, and it’s a very spiritual things for me, too, because it’s calming and I spend time with God.”

Participants pay around $40,000 to run the series of races while fundraising for a cause.

Lavigne, who is an attorney, has been raising money for Hope for Justice, an organization raising awareness of human slavery and human trafficking.

By raising awareness and money for the organization, it will bring light to one of the world’s biggest problems, she said.

“These people that are victims of human trafficking have no voice, and I’m raising awareness and funds to combat human trafficking, so this is to bring awareness to that and raise funds to help bring people to freedom,” she said of her platform. “This is a global event, and this is a global problem.”

Living on the United States-Canadian border, she is well aware of the problems of human trafficking, she said.

“It’s very prominent here,” she said.

The final mile at the race in Miami was memorable because she and other runners felt it was their fastest time.

“The last five miles seemed so light and free,” she said, adding her husband, Tom, saw her complete the race. “Maybe that’s because we knew we were close to the end.”

After all of the running, Lavigne wants to keep going. She plans to run the Boston Marathon on April 16.

“I’m going to be training for Boston,” she said.

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