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Monday, May 20, 2024

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Attorney Joins a Select Club, Running a Marathon on All Seven Continents

Dan McCann, an attorney from Sea Isle City, crosses the finish line at the Antarctic Ice Marathon. McCann is the 982nd person to have run marathons on all seven continents.

By Karen Knight

Sea Isle’s Dan McCann Raised Funds, Awareness at His Races

SEA ISLE CITY – “I did it. My goal is done.”

With those simple words, Dan McCann, an attorney in Sea Isle City, became the 982nd person to run a marathon on every continent and joined the Seven Continents Club.

“I really haven’t had a chance to soak in what I accomplished,” McCann said. “There are so few people who have been able to accomplish something like this that it hasn’t settled in. Just thinking of what you need to line up to make it happen: The physical and mental capacity to run a marathon, family support to keep at it, and the financial capability to pay for all the trips. I am very lucky.”

McCann, 33, accomplished his goal in November 2023, after completing a marathon in Queenstown, New Zealand, which he thought was the best of the events across the continents because his wife, Kate, and 2-year-old daughter, Lilly, were near the finish line.

He also has run marathons in Tanzania (Africa), on the Great Wall of China (Asia), in Ireland (Europe), Aruba (South America), Antarctica and Cape May.

“I had about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to go when I started to get emotional because I realized what I was about to do,” McCann said about the run in Queenstown. “My wife and daughter were there holding signs that said ‘Go Dad Go,’ and at the end, my daughter ran up to me. It was the best moment of my life.”

McCann, who splits his time between Sea Isle City and Camden County, was able to train for a marathon in New Zealand by running over bridges in hilly Queenstown, New Zealand.

He ran the marathon in under six hours, describing the course and the landscape as “fairly mountainous.”

“We spent two weeks in New Zealand so I could get in some training ahead of time, but it wasn’t a lot of time,” McCann said. “Plus, it’s not an easy place to get to, especially with a 2-year-old. And the area is covered in mountains, so I had to run the local bridges to get some training on the hills done.”

The training for New Zealand, however, was nothing compared to what he experienced when running in Antarctica in December 2021. “There is usually a multiple-year wait list for the Antarctic marathon, but because it was in the middle of the Covid pandemic, I was able to get a spot because I was vaccinated and had received the booster shots, which were all required. I also had the funds to get there.”

However, the pandemic affected his ability to get a visa to enter Chile, the holding spot before getting to Antarctica. “I had tried for quite a while to get a visa for Chile, but wasn’t able to, so when I landed, the officials wouldn’t let me enter the country,” he said. “I had a binder full of all my documented efforts and essentially had to argue my case up the line of authority.

“Eventually, they said I could enter, but first, I had to go to this hotel and take another Covid test. If it was negative 24 hours later, I would be allowed in.”

Luckily, he tested negative and was able to fly from Santiago to Puntas Arenas, a city near Chile’s southernmost tip, often used as a base for excursions to Antarctica. However, bad weather in Antarctica further delayed the marathon.

McCann at Union Glacier, Antarctica, where he ran a marathon in December 2021.

“There were about 50 of us who were put up in a hotel for about two weeks because the weather was bad,” McCann said. “We were tested for Covid daily. If you tested positive, you were sent home. We had to wear a mask all the time, even outside.

“However, we ate together, we got to know each other, and it was fascinating how our relationships grew. It was a very inspiring group of individuals.”

Finally, he got the call to prepare for the marathon. “We got a call at 5 a.m. saying that the flight was leaving in an hour, get ready,” McCann said. “It was a five-hour flight. When we landed, we were told the race started in 90 minutes. At that time of year, there is sun 24 hours a day. It was minus 5 degrees.”

McCann said the countryside is so quiet, he could hear himself running on the snow. Dehydration is a problem because water freezes quickly. “I was dressed in three pairs of pants, two layers of socks, four jackets, a face mask, two hats, two pairs of gloves, sun reflective glasses,” he said. “At one point, I couldn’t feel my hands.

“They would give us boiling water during the race, and we would have to wait till it cooled before we could drink it. I had to stop a couple of times to change my outer gear because it was so wet and cold.”

He finished the marathon in 7 hours 15 minutes, and called his mother after crossing the finishing line. “One of my goals with each marathon is to leave each country where I run a little better by raising funds and awareness for a specific cause,” he said.

While he was preparing for the marathon in Antarctica, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He used the marathon and time with the other runners to promote early screening and improved awareness. His mother is now doing “great, recovering,” he said, and he was able to raise awareness across multiple countries represented by the other runners.

Dan and Kate McCann raised awareness and funds for a cause in each marathon location. In Aruba, they raised funds to support the Sgt. Pepper’s Friends, an animal shelter.

When racing in Queenstown, McCann raised funds for an organization that helps those with asthma and allergies, something he has dealt with throughout his life.

Having grown up in Cape May County, he now hopes to use his accomplishments to help children realize they, too, can achieve their goals.

In 2018, McCann and then-girlfriend Kate MacCready ran a marathon in Tanzania and climbed Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 19,341 feet.

“When I run, I usually am in the back of the pack, and I’m happy to be there,” he said. ” I was never the best athlete growing up. Traveling as I have, I have seen poverty; I have seen strangers help each other even though they don’t speak the same language. Running has opened doors for me, bringing people together, and I think I have gained so much more from this experience than I ever put into it.

“I know people can feel overwhelmed having a job, family responsibilities, juggling everything going on in their lives, but running and achieving this accomplishment has given me the confidence that I can do whatever needs to be done. In my small business, I now have the confidence that I can bring people together, no matter how impossible it seems, and somehow work out an agreement.

“This whole experience has opened doors for me that I want to share with others. You don’t need to be intimidated by what you want to achieve. I think if you want to accomplish something, then do it. Once you are in it and finish, you’ll feel great having accomplished your goal. I hope to use my accomplishments to inspire others.”

Contact the author, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com.

Dan, Kate and Lilly McCann visited Milford Sound while in New Zealand to run a marathon.

Reporter

Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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