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category: Sports & Recreation
published: Oct 2012
publisher: RMB | Rocky Mountain Books

Marathon Quest

by Martin Parnell

tagged: running & jogging, extreme sports, philanthropy & charity

In 2005, during a four-month cycling trip through Africa, Martin Parnell was struck by the power of sport and its ability to bring people together and to bring about change. Five years later, the 55-year-old mining engineer, husband, father and grandfather dedicated a year of his life to run 250 marathons with the aim of raising $250,000 for the charity Right To Play, an international humanitarian organization that reaches out to disadvantaged children around the world. In the end, Martin’s “Marathon Quest 250” raised $320,000 for the charity, and he personally visited 60 schools, inspiring thousands of children to get active in order to help the less fortunate at home and abroad.


Along with information on technique, gear, nutrition and the challenges facing new and seasoned athletes as they prepare for either regular or ultra-marathons, Martin gives honest and often humorous insight into why an ordinary person would attempt to do something extraordinary, pushing themselves to the limit, both mentally and physically, in pursuit of their goal to make the world a better place. Marathon Quest is an inspiring and engaging read for anyone interested in running, travel or philanthropy.

About the Author
Martin Parnell started his “Quests for Kids” initiative in 2010 after a 25-year career in the mining industry. Over the next five years he completed 10 “Quests.” These included running 250 marathons in one year, setting five Guinness World Records, and summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours. By the end of 2014, over $1.3-million had been raised for the humanitarian organization Right To Play, and 27,000 children had been given the gift of hope. He is a professional speaker and the author of Marathon Quest – Revised & Updated, Running to the Edge, and The Secret Marathon: Empowering Women and Girls in Afghanistan through Sport. Martin lives in Cochrane, Alberta.
Editorial Reviews

Martin’s story in Marathon Quest and beyond is a heartwarming account of how one seemingly ordinary person set himself amazing physical challenges and worked tirelessly to succeed because of his commitment to a good cause. An entertaining read that will leave you inspired to be a better person, to believe anything is possible if you are dedicated enough, to think about what you too can do to help others who are less fortunate. This book is education and entertainment all rolled into one.—Ellie Greenwood, 2010 International Association of Ultrarunners 100 km World Champion and 2011 Western States Endurance Run winner

Reading this book will having you laughing, cheering, celebrating and crying along with Martin on his remarkable journey of hope and his determined, unwavering persistence to make a difference in this world. It will also, more importantly, affirm all that you know to be good about humanity and our ability to effect change, one small step at a time.—Beckie Scott, Olympic Champion and member of the International Olympic Committee

Marathon Quest is not only a fascinating story of Martin Parnell's incredible journey to improve the lives of children the world over, but it is an exemplary illustration of what one can achieve when they put their heart and soul into something. Great book . . . amazing man!—Jon Montgomery, Olympic gold medalist

Marathon Quest is an inspiring true story of how one man challenged himself, encountered major obstacles but never gave up, and in the end raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as the spirits of children who need it most. What a story! —Hayley Wickenheiser, four-time Olympic hockey medalist and author of Gold Medal Diary

His mother-in-law dubbed him the "Brit with Grit," but as his original vision has since come to fruition and he is now into chasing a Guinness World Record for a very worthy cause, Martin Parnell is also deserving of being referred to as the "Ultimate Ultra Quester." As he "enjoys" the journey, readers will thoroughly enjoy this book.—Steve King, World Triathlon Champion, and commentator for CBC, TSN, CTV and ESPN

Marathon Quest sheds light on how an individual can change the world one step at a time.—Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer for Runners’ World

Reading Martin’s story is like closing a circle. Ten years ago I was inspired to create the definitive cycling adventure from Cairo to Cape Town, the Tour d’Afrique. One of my goals was to give something back to the people and places en route. By reading about Martin’s epiphany on the tour, and how he became inspired to run 250 marathons for charity, now closes the circle and inspires me to tackle more adventures, doing some good in the process. Martin’s journey is a great read and a great example of how one good action generates other.—Henry Gold, founder and director of Tour d’Afrique Ltd.

I was honored to meet and become friends with Martin on a Right to Play trip to Benin, Africa. As I got to know Martin, I was amazed to learn about his incredible endurance through 250 marathons in one year all benefiting Right to Play. His journey to change personal tragedy into a driving force to impact the lives of many children around the world is both inspiring and touching. You will cry, laugh and be deeply moved by this unbelievable book!—Caroline Ouellette, three-time Olympic hockey medallist

You will be awe inspired to read the story of Martin who, at 55, committed to run 250 marathons in one year. Martin took on this challenge not just for the many physical and mental gifts it bestowed on him, but for his passion to support an international humanitarian organization, Right To Play.—John Stanton, owner of The Running Room and best-selling author

Martin proves that there is no time in life that is “too late.” By stepping out and reaching for our dreams we all can be extraordinary. Martin’s actions truly demonstrate a philosophy that through dedication and hard work we can achieve great things, no matter how young or old we are.—Ray Zahab, adventurer, ultramarathoner and founder of impossible2Possible (i2P)

In Marathon Quest, Martin Parnell chronicles the inspirational athletic sojourn that led to his passionate commitment to the Right to Play movement. In its truest form—when it is fun and values-based—sport at the community level has the power to touch people’s lives more profoundly than any one athlete’s performance can. Right to Play leverages the high public profile of charismatic, high-achieving athletes like Martin Parnell to maximize lasting social change at home and internationally for those who can benefit the most.—Barbara Kay, award-winning columnist for the National Post

Martin gives an unflinchingly honest account of how he began running as an escape from grief and how that turned into an obsession he’s used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. I don’t know how anyone could run 250 marathons a year, let alone in Cochrane, Alberta, where the winter temperatures dip to -30 and the summers are equally extreme. But Martin does it and takes us along for the journey. His story is written with clarity and humour, sharing intimate details that parachute us into the world of extreme marathon running and fundraising. It inspires and delights, and proves just how much of a difference one person with a dream can make, especially if he has grit and a limitless ability to endure pain.—Julie Angus, adventurer and best-selling author

For anyone who thinks the world is now all about me, me, me, Martin Parnell and his book Marathon Quest will change your mind instantly! To run 250 marathons in one year, through bitter cold to scorching sun, through every ache and pain imaginable, raising money for kids around the world and Right To Play is incredibly heartwarming! There are still wonderful people in this world, Martin Parnell is one of the best!—Dick Beardsley, American long distance runner and best-selling author

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