Marathon runner and mountain climber Jeanne Stawiecki is now in the Guinness Book of World Records for two feats that she accomplished at age 56. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Stawiecki as the oldest woman to complete the “Seven Summits,” the highest mountains on each continent, and as achieving the fastest aggregate time for a woman to complete marathons on all seven continents.
In addition to the records, Stawiecki is also the first woman in the world to run marathons and climb the highest mountains on all seven continents (seven continents, seven marathons, seven summits).
On February 26, 2007, Stawiecki crossed the finish line of the frigid Antarctic Marathon to receive the record for running marathons on all seven continents in the shortest aggregate time for all females. But accomplishing this task was simply not enough for Stawiecki, a nurse anesthetist from Charlton, Massachusetts. Slightly more than 200 people, less than 50 of them women, have officially scaled the “Seven Summits.” On May 22, 2007, Stawiecki stood on the summit of Mt. Everest, earning the record for being the oldest woman in the world to have completed climbing these peaks. Stawiecki was driven by many personal reasons to become the first woman in the world and the first American, male or female, to achieve both of these extreme athletic challenges.
Stawiecki’s extraordinary achievement is made all the more amazing by the fact that, until about age 40, she was a stressed out, two-pack-a-day smoker working three jobs who couldn’t even run to the end of her street. She had no interests, no hobbies and no passions. Life seemed predictable, until she discovered the amazing power of the way one thinks. She attributes her great success to the power of the mind.
“I want people to know I am an ordinary person doing something extraordinary,” Stawiecki says. “The way you think makes all the difference in the world. If you think and believe you are a success, you will be.”
At age 40, Stawiecki stopped smoking when – upon developing a chronic cough and persistent hoarseness – she realized the health risks of continuing the habit. The knowledge gleaned from her work in the medical field only strengthened her resolve to stay healthy. She also took up exercise to prevent weight gain, and ran her first marathon, the New Yew York City Marathon, in 1994.
After 16 years of running, including seven consecutive years running the Boston Marathon, Stawiecki wanted something more. Rock and ice climbing lead Stawiecki to mountain climbing, which she began at age 52.
After completing six of the “Seven Summits,” Stawiecki returned to Mt. Everest on March 29, 2007, to complete the one climb that eluded her. She took the South Col route with Alpine Ascents International and reached the mountain’s summit on May 22, solidifying her place in the record books.
When not participating in grueling outdoor events or training for the next one on her list, Stawiecki works as a certified nurse anesthetist in the operating room at UMass Memorial Hospital; the Memorial campus in Worcester, Mass. While her professional career also brings significant demands and challenges, Stawiecki was able to balance her passion for caring for others while she fulfilled a personal goal she shared with friends, family and co-workers.
Stawiecki is writing a book about the many difficulties and obstacles she has faced in her personal life and how she was able to overcome them and achieve all she has. By telling her story, she is hoping to inspire other women to take risks and embark on any challenge, despite its difficulties and obstacles.
For more information on Jeanne Stawiecki and her entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for her marathon and mountain climbing accomplishments, visit http://www.sevenin2007.com/ .