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Seven marathons seven days seven continents

Running across the world, for a cause
Dr. Deb Carneol stands ready to take on the world. The North Liberty dentist is currently training for the 777 World Marathon Challenge in January, where she plans to raise money and awareness for ClubFootSolutions.org by running seven marathons in seven continents in seven days. (photo by Cale Stelken)

North Liberty dentist to run seven marathons in seven days in seven continents for charity

NORTH LIBERTY– Many of us like to devote some time and energy to a charity or cause near to our hearts. Others, well, they go the extra mile.
Deb Carneol D.D.S. of North Liberty Dental is doing just that. In January, she and a group of 15 other participants will take a charter plane across the globe for an epic endeavor known as the 777 World Marathon Challenge. In it, her team will represent a cause of their choice while completing seven marathons in seven continents in just seven days.
“Everybody’s doing this for charity. We figured if we’re gonna kill ourselves, we might as well benefit someone,” she quipped.
Originally from Dubuque, Carneol earned her D.D.S. degree from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 1992. Three years later, she arrived in North Liberty, where she would eventually take over Dr. JoAnn German Wahle’s North Liberty dental clinic in 1999. She currently resides in North Liberty with her husband and their 16 year-old daughter.
Although she’s maintained a fitness regime through CrossFit and other means, ironically enough, Dr. Carneol admits to not having been much of a runner until being faced with her upcoming challenge. How did this decision go over with family and friends, you ask?
“You’re crazy!” she exclaimed. “They weren’t really thrilled when we first started talking about it, because first of all, it’s a physical challenge; it’s a mental challenge. And I wasn’t a big runner prior to doing this,” she confessed. “So they were pretty concerned.”
The idea was introduced to her about 13 months ago by a family friend, David Samson, former president of the Miami Marlins and a past contestant of the CBS reality show Survivor. To test the waters for her global endeavor, Dr. Carneol signed up for the Dopey Challenge last year in Orlando. The four-day event included a 5K, 10K, half marathon and, finally, a full marathon.
“I said, ‘If I can finish that, I’ll be on board,’” she recalled. “It went really well; we had a really good time.“
Dr. Carneol will join a group of 16 runners assembled by Samson to take on the challenge together.
“Our team name is Hold the Plane,” she joked. “There will be a lot of people finishing in four hours and under, but we’re gonna be a little slower than that. We’ll probably be in that six-hour range. So we joke that we’re gonna be the ones telling them to hold the plane all the time.”
Consisting of runners from across the U.S., including New York, Florida and the Midwest, the crew brings together a variety of unique and high-profile figures, including the director of the Boston Marathon, a professional baseball player, an amputee and a Playboy cover model. They range in age from late-20s to mid-60s.
“We did the Chicago Marathon, we did the Marine Corps Marathon and we’re all meeting on first week of January to do the Orlando marathon again,” Dr. Carneol noted. The team will also be in New York this week for media coverage.
“Our group is probably the biggest group from the states this year,” she proclaimed.
With a bright smile and dental loupes resting on her head, Dr. Carneol certainly stays busy, bustling throughout her family clinic and tending to colleagues’ requests for supervision. Still, she manages to find time to run at least 10 miles a day, often keeping good company in her teammate and two-time Survivor contestant Sarah Lacina of the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
“David was on Survivor three years ago, and he met Sarah then,” Dr. Carneol explained. “It was crazy that Sarah was just 20 minutes from here and David had no clue. So we’ve been running on our long runs together on the weekends.”
On its face, the very idea may sound impossible. Powering through fatigue, jet lag, sleep depravation and temperature fluctuations, some 55 runners from 13 countries will compete across the globe. Participants will run a total of 183.4 miles on foot with an 8-hour time limit per marathon. They will accumulate almost 30,000 miles in flight with just enough time to recharge in the sky before the next event. The fastest combined marathon times for male and female runners, or average marathon time, will determine the outright winner and will also be recognized for world record setting purposes. 
Dr. Carneol’s journey will begin with a flight to Cape Town, South Africa, where weather conditions will determine the start of the marathon in Novo, Antarctica.
“It’s summer there, so we’re hoping it’s gonna be around 20 degrees,” she said. The distinguishably chilly run will take place on a packed snow track.
The team then heads back to Cape Town before a third run in Perth, Australia, clocking nearly 14 hours in a single flight. They then make their way through Dubai of the United Arab Emirates; Lisbon, Spain; Cartagena, Columbia; and a final stretch in Miami on Feb. 5, with family and friends waiting to greet them.
Due to their small number, the team plans to rely on their traveling crew for assistance, with the possibility of a few local volunteers offering a hand at each course. Tracks will likely be no longer than 13 miles and take place in a variety of settings.
Of course, for the American team of 16, all this legwork sits among the backdrop of charity. Dr. Carneol’s goal is to raise $375,000 for Club Foot Solutions, which treats the congenital clubfoot birth defect that predominately affects children born in developing countries. She and her teammates intend to channel various sources to meet their high bars.
“Twenty-five dollars pays for a brace, so pretty many anything is great,” she said. “But we’re trying to get some corporations that have some money that can support us.”
With only a few weeks left, Dr. Carneol is anxious to take on the once-in-a-lifetime challenge where she will, most appropriately, run so children can walk.
“My biggest thing is awareness, not necessarily all the money donated,” she explained. “Because hopefully then later on the awareness will bring in the money.”