Girl's Mission in Dad's Memory Takes Her to Antarctica Marathon

Winter Vinecki, 14, hopes to complete marathons on all 7 continents.

ByABC News
April 13, 2013, 10:25 PM

April 14, 2013— -- Winter Vinecki is a girl on a mission, one that's taken her to one of the most forbidding places on the planet: Antarctica.

She started competing in triathlons when she was 5 years old, finished her first Olympic distance triathlon by age 9, and now, at 14, the Salem, Ore., native has acquired one more accolade -- she's the youngest person ever to complete a marathon on Antarctica.

Since last January, she has also done North America and Africa, and is determined to be the youngest person ever to conquer all seven continents in a single year. She has four continents to go before the end of December, and she plans to travel to Peru in June to conquer South America in the Inca Trail Marathon.

But Vinecki, a tri-athlete and youth aerial skier, may have already put her toughest test behind her when she traveled to Antarctica, the world's driest, windiest, and iciest continent as part of a world marathon tour she developed to spread awareness and raise money for prostate cancer.

"I originally had the idea to do a marathon on all seven continents when I was sitting on my couch looking through the Guinness Book of World Records and I came across the youngest person to do a marathon on all seven continents," Vinecki told ABC News. "I immediately pointed in that book and told my mom I wanted this record for my dad and all the men and families affected by prostate cancer."

Vinecki's father, Michael Vinecki, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and died in March 2009. Vinecki, who was already a competitive runner completing her first 10k when she was 8, formed Team Winter, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for a cure to prostate cancer.

Since then, the organization, which includes Vinecki, her mother, Dawn Estelle, as well as a board of directors, has raised more than $400,000.

She has done all this while also training with Fly Freestyle, a youth Olympic development team for aerial skiing in Park City, Utah, in the hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Vinecki said the reward so far for finishing a marathon on each continent is not just about a medal and an official time.

"The main goal is to take my dad to the places he never got to go to and also to spread prostate cancer awareness," Vinecki said.

Despite Vinecki's youth, she is not the only young person who had a goal to finish a marathon on Antarctica. Sara Oliphant from the United States was 15 years old when she completed the Antarctica Ice Marathon held by the South Pole, according race director Richard Donovan.

Likewise, 10-year-old Nikolas Toocheck, who is also attempting to run a marathon on every continent to raise money for Operation Warm, a charity created by his grandfather, recently attempted to complete The White Continent Marathon, but due to inclement weather only finished part of the race on Antarctica, completing the remaining mileage on Chile.

Vinecki completed the Antarctica Marathon put on March 30 by the Boston-based company Marathon Tours and Travel in 4:49:45, coming in third place for the women and placing 11th out of 60 runners who completed the marathon that day.

The Antarctica Marathon, first put on by Marathon Tours and Travel in 1995, runs along the shoreline of King George Island off of Maxwell Bay and passes by four international research stations, including Russia's Bellingshausen station and Chile's Frei station.