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Corridor women running in World Marathon Challenge

Sarah Lacina (left) and Deb Carneol are two of just 55 people in the world running the World Marathon Challenge in 2018. The women live just 15 minutes apart in Eastern Iowa. (Photo courtesy of Deb Carneol)

Seven marathons. Seven days. Seven continents.

That's 183.4 miles on foot in one week - and thousands of miles of travel through air. They call it the World Marathon Challenge.

Just 55 people are brave enough to attempt it - and two of them live just 15 minutes apart from each other in the Corridor.

Sarah Lacina is the person you probably know. The Marion native and CRPD officer is a two-time contestant on Survivor - and was champion of the series' "Game Changers" season that aired in Spring 2017.

"On Survivor, you can't just look at it as, 'Oh, let's just tackle these next 39 days,'" Sarah said during a workout at CRPD headquarters this month. "You have to tackle Day 1.'"

That mentality has shown that Sarah's physical and mental strength is world-class. But Day 1 of training for the WMC tested that mental fortitude.

"I ran competitively in high school and then also in college (at Wartburg)," Sarah said, "but by the time I got out of college, I was over it."

"I broke up with running a long time ago, you know? And so now I have to find this newfound love for running again."

Enter the second person - the one that hasn't been on a televised competition and who, up until she started training for the Challenge, had never run a road race of any length. Ever.

"That's all I heard," Deb Carneol said during a break from her dental practice in North Liberty this month. "'You don't even run.'"

"I said, 'I don't know. It's very intriguing.' And you get my interest piqued," she said with a smile, "I don't say 'No' very often."

And that mentality is carrying both Deb and Sarah on the road to the Challenge.

"We'll do our long runs together and her spirit just lifts me up," she said. "She's always, 'You can do this! You can do this!' I feel bad because I'm never having to encourage her - she's always encouraging me."

"We were both nervous as to how each of us were gonna run," Deb recalled, "but once we got started - honestly, within the first two miles, we're like, 'This is good.'"

"We are very compatible in how we run and we have so much in common. It feels like that, after our first run, I just feel like I've known her for years."

Sarah has proven herself to be a sole survivor on TV. This new journey isn't one to be tackled alone.

"I'm hoping that if ever (Deb) needs to lean on me, I can return the favor for her," Sarah said, "because it's definitely been a blessing throughout this to have her."

Deb and Sarah are running with 14 other people from around the country with Team Hold The Plane. The group is running for a number of different causes and organizations - including Clubfoot Solutions in Cedar Rapids. They'll be updating their progress throughout the Challenge on their Facebook page once the run begins on Tuesday, January 30 in Antarctica.

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