Top of Her Game

For several years we’ve followed the journey of Encinitas resident Vivian Lee as she worked towards her goal of completing the Marathon Grand Slam, running a marathon on each of the seven continents plus the North Pole. She achieved this milestone in November of last year when she finished the Antarctic Ice Marathon, becoming one of just 21 female members – and 104 total members – inducted in the Marathon Grand Slam Club. She is the first Chinese-American person and the third American woman to join the club.

The Antarctic Ice Marathon is the southernmost marathon in the world and extreme in nature – runners faced temperatures of -13 degrees Fahrenheit and strong headwinds on race day, keeping every inch of their bodies covered to prevent frostbite and snow blindness. Vivian faced opposite extremes last April when she ran the Marathon des Sables in 120-degree heat in the Sahara Desert. She has completed marathons in San Diego, Chicago, Australia, the North Pole, Greece, Thailand, Morocco, and Peru. “The journey over the past 20 months was so incredible that it completely changed me,” Vivian said. “The harder the race, the more I got to know myself.”

Vivian is now focusing on training for ultra races, which are longer in distance than a marathon. Her next goal is to qualify and compete in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France next year, a 103-mile course across three countries and 400 summits. These kinds of races are smaller, and allow her the opportunity to get to know her fellow runners. “When we conquer the same hardship and suffering on the course,” Vivian explained, “we surely form strong bonds.” No matter which course Vivian runs next, the Encinitas community is cheering her on!