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Couple runs marathons on seven continents

CASS LAKE -- Anyone who suffers a heart attack experiences a changed life.

For Glenn Greenberg of rural Cass Lake and Rockford, Ill., a heart attack on Dec. 5, 1987, when he was 49, was his inspiration to choose a new lifestyle. He started running in 1989 and discovered he enjoyed the activity.

About eight years ago, Glenn, now 68, met his wife, Rose Austin, in New Zealand while he was running the marathon and she was running the half-marathon. Rose, now 62, said she started running when she was 55.

At the post-race banquet in New Zealand, Rose said the organizers read the list of names of runners who had run marathons on all seven continents, including over glaciers in Antarctica.

"Glenn said, 'I'm going to do that,'" Rose recalled.

Glenn became the 46th marathoner to make the elite list of the Seven Continent Club.

Meanwhile, Rose also set a running record by completing half-marathons on all seven continents.

"I'm the first female that's done it that we know of," she said.

Rose's accomplishments are even more unique considering she is legally blind.

"It's amazing to have a grandma who's legally blind and she runs," said Cassidy Dawley, 10, one of the grandchildren vacationing at Glenn and Rose's lake home on Allen's Bay. "It's so cool. When I'm older, I want to be like my grandma."

The seven-continent marathons include running along the coast of Chile, a safari marathon in Kenya and atop the Great Wall of China. However, the Antarctic Marathon might be the most challenging.

"It was 40 below," Rose said. "When I came across the finish line it was snowing so hard a girl from London held my hand. She told Glenn she would look out for me."

Rose took first place in her age group in that race.

Glenn said it is an unusual race on King George Island, Antarctica, because the treaty only allows 100 people to be on the island at one time. Consequently, the marathon is limited to 80 runners. It is run every two years, but the weather on Antarctica is so changeable that the runners might arrive to find the race cancelled.

Glenn and Rose said they are not fast runners, but pace themselves so they finish their races under the allotted time.

"I just run," Glenn said. "I don't look at a watch. I don't look at miles. I'm not in there to compete. I just enjoy my run."

Glenn said he runs every day when he's training for a marathon. "I work out my own schedule," he said. "I do three-to-eight miles a day and then I do one long run at the end of the week."

The couple has also made many friends in the runners' world.

"We ran in Fargo, N.D., and here was this guy saying, 'Hi, Rose. Hi, Glenn' and we had run with him in Africa last year," Rose said.

Another friendship is with Ira Batchelder, a Bemidji marathoner.

"I met Batch when I ran over in Greece," Glenn said. "We ran the marathon together in 1996. Actually, I think he beat me in Greece, but I was just goofing around in Greece."

All marathons, but the Greek Marathon in particular, commemorate the run in 490 B.C., of an Athenian messenger, Phidippides, who carried the news the 26.2 miles from the village of Marathon to Athens that the Athenian Army had defeated the Persians. According to legend, the messenger delivered his news and died.

Glenn has now set himself a new challenge. He wants to compound his Seven Continent Club marathons with half-marathons on each continent. For that, he and Rose will return on Feb. 7 to King George Island, Antarctica.