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How A Smoking, Drinking Slob Won A Marathon In Antarctica

You don't need to be this extreme to change your life.

06/11/2016 8:04 AM AEDT | Updated 06/11/2016 8:07 AM AEDT
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Relentless: Seven Marathons, Seven Continents, Seven Days. By David Gething.

OK, stop everything. You know what? We'll let you finish your bacon and eggs, and also this story, but then you've really got to get out there and go for a run or something. A walk will do. Anything.

Why? Because David Gething will inspire you to, that's why. David Gething is a guy who used to like partying, drinking, smoking and a bunch of other stuff which was not so great for his 30-something body. Here's him then, right after his first child was born.

David Gething
There were a few buns in David's oven back then.

And here's him now, with the same gorgeous little girl.

David Gething
Same gorgeous girl, different David!

One day, as he was about to become a dad, David's wife Trilby said nup, enough. Time for a lifestyle change. A big one.

The couple was based in Hong Kong back then. David was, and is, a vet. But he was also, excuse the pun, a bit of a party animal. Long story short, David took Trilby's advice. First he started cycling. Then cycling some more. Then came the fun runs and triathlons (we're really abbreviating this, but no matter). And then? Oh, just a lazy seven marathons in seven days as part of a thing called the World Marathon Challenge. Which, by the way, he won.

The Huffington Post Australia sat down with David and Trilby to talk about their relationship, David's crazy marathon running obsession and more. We'll break this into a few easily digestible random subheads, beginning with...

DON'T PANIC. YOU DON'T HAVE TO RUN SEVEN MARATHONS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE TOO.

The first thing you need to know about this story is that we're not going to get all preachy. You don't have to go the full David Gething to make someone happy, least of all yourself. As David explains, if you're interested in changing your life and overall attitudes through physical fitness, even the smallest changes make a difference.

"I was an average guy and I was rubbish at sports at school," David told us. "My advice to people is it's a matter of setting a goal that is achievable and letting people around you know your goal. In a way, that keeps you honest, because then you feel you're letting someone down if you don't do it."

OK everybody, this writer is running five kilometres over hilly terrain this Sunday. You read it here first.

Relentless: Seven Marathons, Seven Continents, Seven Days
This is David competing in an 'aquathon' in his former home of Hong Kong -- an event combining road running, trail running and along distance swimming. Ouch, those hills.

HOW NOT TO DIE WHILE RUNNING AN ANTARCTIC MARATHON. HINT: TRY NOT TO SWEAT

This is so cool. This is the story of David running the first marathon of the World Marathon Challenge in Antarctica. You'll love this.

"I had never seen it snowing before, so I wasn't particularly prepared for running in an Antarctic snowstorm," David recounted.

"We took this Soviet ex-military aircraft and landed on a slab of ice 3 kilometres thick, and then the plane took off straight away so its wheels didn't freeze to the runway. We had to stay in tents and were there for about two days. Competitors weren't sure when the race would start due to weather conditions and the not unimportant matter of the plane being available again after it had flown to Chile and back. Then one night at 11pm the race director knocked on his tent door and said the race was on, and that everybody should meet in the main tent for a medical briefing.

"The camp doctor stood up and said "I'm going to tell you one thing. If you sweat out there, you will die. The sweat will freeze instantly and form a plate of ice around your chest. There's no way to warm up from that."

So here was the challenge facing David. He had to run fast enough to maintain body heat, but slow enough not to sweat too much. Know what happened next? Yep, he won the race. And lost the end of a toe to frostbite. Could've been worse.

HERE'S A CHEEKY QUESTION. AS HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA SAT DOWN WITH DAVID AND TRILBY, WE ASKED WHO WAS MORE OUT OF LOVE WITH DAVID -- HIS WIFE OR DAVID HIMSELF?

Trilby: "That's a really good question. I think we both knew things had gone way too far. I think we had decided to settle down a bit, particularly with a kid in the way, and just take life more seriously.
David: I always had something of an addictive personality, whether that's a force for good or not.
Ant: So you just sort of swapped your party addiction for fitness and racing addiction?
David: The truth is, you know inside what you want to be, and you think it's great being a party guy, but you know inside you shouldn't be staying out till 7 am and coming home hammered. Then a few friends aged 35 or 40 started getting a bit sick. And when Trilby came home after having the baby, we sort of dared each other to go for this eight kilometre fun run. I was so scared and not that fit, and that was a huge distance for me. But somehow or other we finished, and you sorta think 'what next?'. So you try a ten kilometres run.

David Gething
Yep, he won a race in Sydney too

SO WHEN HE'S OUT THERE ON THE ROAD OR IN THE DESERT OR WHEREVER RUNNING HIS MARATHONS AND ULTRAMARATHONS, DOES DAVID ACTUALLY ENJOY HIMSELF?

"I made a huge mistake first time I did an ultramarathon. I was looking at my feet too much but after that, I made it my mission to always look around me. Otherwise you might as well be standing at home."

DAVID IS HAPPILY SET UP, RUNNING AN ANIMAL HOSPITAL THESE DAYS. BEFORE WE LET HIM GO, WE THOUGHT WE'D ASK HIM IF HE CAN EVER BE SATISFIED? OR DOES HE ALWAYS NEED A NEW CHALLENGE NOW?

"I think I'm either going forwards or backwards and don't ever want to be back to the guy that I was. I don't think I can do the World Marathon Challenge again, but I've always got to look forward to the next challenge."

AND THE BEST BIT IS, ALL THIS AND MORE IS IN DAVID's BOOK ENTITLED RELENTLESS: SEVEN MARATHONS, SEVEN CONTINENTS, SEVEN DAYS.

Which is available, we presume, at all good book stores and probably a bunch of other stores too.

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