Winter Vinecki Chats Marathons and Team Winter!

At 14, Winter Vinecki is the youngest person to run a marathon on all 7 continents. She's also the founder of Team Winter, a prostate cancer awareness foundation.Winter Vinecki

We spoke to Winter all about what inspires her to keep running, and about what she has accomplished in honor of her dad!

Winter started racing when she was about 5 years old, following in the footsteps of her mother, who had always competed in track events, marathons, and Ironman Triathlons.

"I decided I would give it a shot," Winter said. "She's the one who showed me that you can do anything you want to do in life. See it all, do it all, and be it all. Anything is possible."

Winter always knew she wanted to run for a cause.

"I was going to start Team Winter for childhood obesity," Winter said. "When my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I knew I had to switch to try help him."

Team Winter was founded, with the mission of raising money for prostate cancer research and spreading awareness about the disease across the world.

When Winter and her brothers went out looking for the light blue ribbons associated with prostate cancer awareness, all they could find were pink breast cancer ribbons.

"Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 men, and breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women," Winter explained. "It's more common, but men don't want to talk about it, there's so little awareness for such a common cancer, that my dad had. That fueled me even further."

Winter is a two-time winner of the IronKids National Triathlon.

"The first year, I didn't expect to be able to go out there and win that event," she said. "I was hoping just to go out there and do my best. It was definitely a shock but it prove where working hard can get you."

Her second win convinced her even further.

"It just shows that no matter what your goals are that if you work hard, you can achieve them," she said.

Winter's Olympic-distance triathlon at Walt Disney World in Florida was the last race that Winter's father saw her compete in.

"After he passed away I was looking through a book of world records, and I came across the youngest person to run a marathon on all 7 continents," Winter said. "Immediately I told my mom that I wanted this record for my dad. It's taken 5 years in the making to complete."

To beat the record, Winter made it her goal to run a marathon on each continent before she turned 15.

One of the most interesting parts of that journey was organizing a run in a marathon in Antarctica, which occurs very infrequently.

"We took a research vessel boat down there, went across the Drake's Passage, and ran the marathon there near the research bases on Antarctica," Winter explained.

The temperature during the run was about 23 or 24 degrees fahrenheit.

"It actually wasn't that cold," she explained. "I was training in Park City, where I'm living most of the year for aerial skiing, and I was getting up at 5 am and doing runs where it was -5 degrees outside, so I was well prepared for weather."

Training outside near home also prepared her for the slippery Antarctic snow. When she finished, she became the youngest person to ever complete a marathon on the continent.

After the Antarctica marathon, Winter ran in Peru, Mongolia and New Zealand before heading to Greece.

In November 10 of 2013, she completed her goal by finishing a marathon in Athens, Greece, on the original course of the first-ever marathon! The world record has helped her bring even more attention to Team Winter.

Team Winter has raised nearly half a million dollars to date. Part of her campaign involves traveling across the world to run and talk about prostate cancer awareness.

"It's definitely overwhelming at times" she said. "This year we traveled to five different races all in different countries and different continents."

Traveling can be especially hard on runners.

"It's hard on the body," Winter explained. "You're at the airport trying to find food, and all there is is fast food. You're sleep deprived, your legs get swollen from the plane, you get dehydrated. I think traveling is the hardest part of the whole marathon tour."

On top of all of her athletic endeavors and traveling, Winter also maintains nearly perfect grades at Stanford University's highly esteemed high school, EPGY.

"It's definitely really tough," she said. "It's hard to do school, trying to keep all As, and at the same time keeping up with my run training, aerial skiing training, and trying to keep up with Team Winter. It's finding a balance between all of the activities and managing my time."

But it's all worth it to spread awareness about the effects of prostate cancer, and also to raise interest in running.

Running is an activity anyone can do, because it doesn't require any equipment and it keeps people active.

"The great thing about running is it gets you out there," Winter said. "You can be in your own zone and it doesn't matter. If you're doing a race, and you're afraid you're not going to be able finish, you can just walk the rest. It doesn't matter how fast you are, it just matters about getting across that finish line and being active."

She suggests that aspiring marathon runners take small steps toward their goals.

"Start training with a run coach and start doing small runs," she said. "Do a  5k, then start to do 10ks, then half marathons and then get to marathons. It takes a lot of training, a lot of dedication, and it's going to be hard work but in the end it's going to be worth it."

Next year, she wants to do an ultramarathon, and is focusing on making the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for aerial skiing, all the while continuing to raise money and funds as the head of Team Winter.

We hope that Winter is able to achieve those dreams! Check out the Team Winter official site here!

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