San Diegan Eric Tozer just got back from the trip of a lifetime. In fact, he completed what would be some people’s entire bucket list by touching every continent, and he did it in one week. He also ran a marathon at each stop: seven marathons, seven continents, in seven days. That’s 183 miles by foot, and 63 hours in the air.
"I wanted to do something that was monumental, and would have that wow factor," said Tozer.
And he doesn’t mean he did it to get attention for himself.
"I was doing it for a much bigger purpose than me," he said.
That purpose is an incurable disease that affects more than one million Americans. At age 22, Tozer was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
"As an athlete, I didn’t know. Could I still play sports?" he said.
This former college soccer player ended up getting into endurance sports like marathons, iron man triathlons, and now the World Marathon Challenge.
"I was excited for the opportunity to push myself to some new limit. I don’t think we get to do that often enough," said Tozer.
Every year, the World Marathon Challenge takes dozens of runners around the world in seven days, running a marathon on every continent. Runners do most of their eating and sleeping on planes. This year around 40 runners made the trip from Antarctica to South Africa, then Australia, Dubai, Spain, Chile, and finally ending in Miami, Florida.
The race started in Antarctica, where even though it’s summer, it’s still the bottom of the world.
"When the gusts of wind came through, you felt it," Tozer recounted.
Tozer is the first person with diabetes to ever run the event*, which adds another element to pushing the body. He had to constantly check his blood sugar, carefully watch his diet, and make sure he had insulin ready at any moment.
At the same time, he said he had an advantage: a huge amount of support along the way.
Families of Type 1 diabetes patients met him on the course, along with thousands of messages on social media.
"Thousands and thousands of messages. It was so powerful," he said. "My diabetes community is part of my team. We have this bond because we all share this incurable disease and we deal with it together."
Tozer crossed the finish line in Miami on Feb. 8 with his two young daughters by his side, and his wife, Jen Tozer, a few steps away.
"I couldn’t be more proud," she said. "Our girls just think he’s a hero, and he really is to all of us."
And to a lot of other people in the diabetes community and well beyond.
"We can have this disease but still accomplish the seemingly impossible," Tozer added.
*Eric Tozer did want to make sure to point out that while he is the first person with type one diabetes to complete the challenge, another runner with type one also completed it this year, further proof that people with this disease can accomplish incredible things.
You can find out more about the world marathon challenge here. Also, thank you to Dunnrite Productions for allowing use of video from Eric's journey for this story.