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Sandy can't stop marathon man's emotional quest

By Tom McGowan, CNN
November 2, 2012 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
Adam Chataway set himself the challenge of running six marathons on six continents in less than 30 days. The journey started on October 7 in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, and ends in New York on Sunday. Adam Chataway set himself the challenge of running six marathons on six continents in less than 30 days. The journey started on October 7 in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, and ends in New York on Sunday.
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Man on a mission
For Vicky
Down Under
Journey to Jordan
African adventure
Destination Dublin
New York green light
Famous forerunner
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British man is running six marathons on six continents in less than 30 days
  • Adam Chataway is raising funds to build four classrooms in Ethiopian town
  • The final leg of Londoner's challenge is Sunday's New York City Marathon
  • Organizers of the race say it will go ahead despite Hurricane Sandy

(CNN) -- When New York City Marathon organizers announced that the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Sandy would not cause the cancellation of Sunday's prestigious race, few people will have been as relieved as Adam Chataway.

The Londoner is a man on a mission -- he ran five marathons on five continents before making it to the Big Apple, and cycled the last leg of the journey from Boston.

Sunday's race will be his sixth in less than 30 days, all run to honor the memory of his late fiancee and provide an education for Ethiopian children.

"There are fallen trees, electricity poles and stuff like that," the 34-year-old told CNN from the roadside after the hurricane had caused widespread disruption along the east coast of the U.S.

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"It has certainly made it more interesting. I imagine the fine people of New York will show their character and come out and represent. I'm sure it will be a special occasion."

Friends and members of the Puglia family sift through the remains of their missing home for valuables on November 6, 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island, New York. View photos of New York preparing for Sandy. Friends and members of the Puglia family sift through the remains of their missing home for valuables on November 6, 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island, New York. View photos of New York preparing for Sandy.
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Photos: New York recovers from Sandy Photos: New York recovers from Sandy
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The superstorm has claimed more than 140 lives across North America and the Caribbean, but that has not deterred Chataway as he moves closer to the final 26.2 miles of his task.

"I think people thought we were daft when we said we were going to cycle from Boston to New York, but now they know why, as we couldn't have flown to New York," he said after arriving in the U.S. on Tuesday.

"There hasn't been too much of a chance to get a sense of people. Obviously it is all over the news and I think people, especially here on the eastern seaboard, are a little bit shellshocked."

His global quest began in South America on October 7 with the Buenos Aires marathon. He has since completed a punishing schedule which included races in Australia, Jordan, Kenya and the Republic of Ireland.

The long road Chataway has traveled began in 2006 when his bride-to-be Vicky was killed in a cycling accident on her way home from work in London.

Adam established "Vicky's Water Project" in her memory to help bring clean water to a region of Ethiopia.

"I was fortunate enough to get a lot of time off work and I wanted to do something worthwhile with it," explains Chataway.

"I worked with the charity ActionAid to establish a project in Ethiopia, which is now up and running. As a result of that being set up, children no longer need to spend all day collecting water. So there's now a shortage of classrooms."

The shortage gave birth to Chataway's latest fundraising venture, which he hopes will generate enough money to build four classrooms in the Lera Town area of Ethiopia.

He set off with the aim of raising £10,000 ($16,000), but he is close to doubling that figure. To date, Chataway has collected around £18,000 in his "adventure of a lifetime."

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Chataway comes from a family with running pedigree -- his father Christopher is a former 5,000 meters world record-holder and was a pacemaker when fellow Briton Roger Bannister became the first man to run one mile in under four minutes in 1954.

"I wanted to do every marathon close to the three hours and 45 minutes target," Adam said.

"I thought it was pushing myself close to the limit while also being able to sustain it. All of them have been there or thereabouts, my legs have held up to the rigors of it."

Chataway met that target and went on to achieve something even his father and the great Bannister would have struggled with.

In his schedule, the Nairobi and Dublin Marathons were numbers four and five respectively, which presented a problem. The two races were on consecutive days and being staged on different continents.

"The Nairobi marathon was at seven on Sunday," he explains. "I went to the start line in the knowledge I was up against the finest marathon-running nation on the planet, so knew I was on a bit of a hiding to nothing.

"I daubed myself down with a wet wipe, much to the disappointment of my fellow passengers on the five-hour flight from Nairobi to Abu Dhabi.

"I had six hours on the ground there and just tried to get as much water as I could and some food inside me and stretch my legs. I took off from there at 2:30 a.m. and landed in Dublin at 6:45 a.m.

"I got changed at the airport, met friends and family at the start line and I managed to get around the Dublin marathon in three hours and 38 minutes on slightly weary, but thankfully forgiving, legs."

So with just New York left to tick off on this testing trip, what is next for this Running Man?

"Sleep and beer," he replies. "In London."

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