Denver woman runs 7 half-marathons on 7 continents to inspire girls

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<p>(Photo: Courtesy of Casey Kortese)</p>
<p>Triple Seven Quest runners after the race in Paris.</p>

Karen "Casey" Cortese has attempted to run seven races on seven continents in seven days -- either full or half marathons. It didn't quite go the way she planned. Because of weather, she couldn't accomplish the feat in a week. As it turned out, Cortese ran some bonus miles. The daunting feat is called the "Triple Seven Quest." The 51-year-old Denver marketing executive says she wanted to show young girls that they can overcome any obstacle life throws their way.

As part of her effort, Cortese set up an online campaign to raise money for Girls on the Run of the Rockies, the Colorado chapter of a national nonprofit that focuses on youth development.

Cortese spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. Fresh off her global trek, she talked about the logistics of tackling the massive endeavor and the bigger message that motivated her to enter the race.

On how it works:

"It's all organized through an adventure marathon company and they put all of the logistics together. As you can imagine, it can be pretty daunting to figure out how you can get to seven continents in seven days. They made all the travel arrangements for us. They made the very few hotel arrangements for us -- since we didn't stay in hotels very often. And there were 36 people from all around the world, ages 30 to 77. The people were completely inspiring to me. Basically, we would get up, fly in our running clothes, get off the plane, be taken to the race site and start our races. Hopefully we'd have a chance to shower afterwards. But sometimes not."

On her initial reaction to her friend's suggestion to sign up:

"I said, 'Are you crazy?' It seemed like such an insane goal and, given the fact that I had only done six half-marathons in my entire life, this was something I had never contemplated. Then I stepped back and said, 'Well, why wouldn't I do this?' And my only answer was it would be really really hard. I decided that's not a reason to not do something. I just felt this sense of inspiration growing inside of me and I thought, 'I want to do something I never thought was possible.'"

On the bigger picture:

"I thought I could live by example. I think that young girls need to have positive role models that are actually living the words they are speaking. So I wanted to prove to young girls that someone like me, who had never even thought I would attempt something like this, could set a goal and be determined to accomplish it in a short period of time. And I wanted to show the value in what I was doing by doing it for a cause. Hopefully, I inspired others to do the same thing."