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Motivation Articles  ›  Inspiring Stories

''What I Learned by Running Around the World''

10 Lessons from a Man Who Ran on 7 Continents

-- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer and Joe Hale, Marathoner
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5. Listen to what other people have to say (you just might learn something new).
I met people from every walk of life from nearly every country in the world. Each one I spoke with had a fascinating story to tell. If you give a person the gift of your time and attention, the result is a blessing for both of you. Like Ruth from Alabama—65 years old in 1995 and never been out of the state. She decided she’d raised her kids and now it was time for her self. She banked a year’s worth of vacation and on January 1, 2000 got on a bike and rode it around the world, visiting 47 countries. She now runs marathons at 74 and kicked my butt in Antarctica.

6. Keep busy. (You only retire from the job—not from life.)
If you stop giving, you stop receiving; it’s as simple as that. The “retirees” I met have lives that are fuller and more rewarding than when they worked. Community service, they said, is the reason why. As one man told me, “Retirement is like marriage; it’s not the end of something—it’s the beginning.” Retirement in the traditional sense is a pretty selfish act.

7. One person can always make a difference. (Be a good ambassador, wherever you are.)
It is possible to change the world (and change the perception of America abroad) by performing one small humble act of kindness. I saw it happen a hundred times. One was the occasion I mentioned above, when we gave our running shoes to our (much faster) African counterparts. America made some friends that day.

8. There’s no place like home (and your family is your home).
My friends know about my Blackberry addiction. (Linda: “Only Joey emails from Mt. Kilimanjaro.”) I felt at home when I shared my experiences with my wife and children, even though I was 5,000 miles away. Even better was when my son, Grant, joined me to run the Australian Marathon. He also reminded me that the best present a parent can give a child is a look of pride after a job well done.

9. God exists.
All the pain, suffering, and unhappiness around the world can occasionally make you question His existence. But there is so much natural beauty, joy, and kindness out there too, that you can’t deny there’s a divine agent behind it all somewhere. There is a harmony and balance that isn’t accidental. It’s His work and ours, and we have much left to do.

10. You DON’T always need to use sunscreen (even in Africa in the summer).
OK, our parents were wrong on this one. In freezing rain at 19,500 feet on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, sunscreen is totally unnecessary. Warm milk, however, would have been nice—just like Mom said.

To learn more about Joe Hale’s 7in7on7, visit  To learn how the March of Dimes helps prevent birth defects and infant mortality, visit
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About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.

Member Comments

  • Best article I've ever read on Spark in the three months I've been a member. - 12/12/2013 2:57:45 PM
    Love the thoughts. Pertinent to all of life, not just running. - 1/3/2013 3:42:49 PM
  • Two years later and I read it again! Just awe-inspiring! Thanks again! - 10/24/2011 8:30:44 PM
  • Awesome story. Very inspiring. Thanks! - 10/24/2011 8:20:17 AM
  • HI,I loved what you had to say in your article!Plus,the number 7 is mention a lot in the Bible.Wow,you sure did have a lot of inspiring stories to share!Thanks for sharing with us!**I like the part where you shared about Ruth,never too old to try anything you enjoy!
    - 11/16/2010 12:55:24 PM
  • I loved your article!! It (and you!) are truly inspirational and uplifting!
    - 10/27/2010 10:12:15 AM
  • Interesting and motivational article. Thank you. - 10/25/2010 4:11:30 PM
  • This is still awesome - 10/25/2010 1:30:24 PM
  • Congratulations! Your article was inspiring! It has made me stop today and be grateful for all that I have and it has given me strength to continue my journey to be stronger and healthier. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts. - 10/24/2010 2:58:44 PM
  • One of the most inspiring articles I have read on Spark! It just goes to show you how much we can achieve when we set our hearts and minds to it! - 10/24/2010 8:23:51 AM
    An inspiring story, but. . .as a mother of twins born prematurely (less than 2 pounds) I do not support the March of Dimes. Their message is one that has been extremely damaging to parents of children with disabilities or who were born prematurely. There are many reasons babies are born prematurely or have disabilities that have nothing to do with smoking, drinking or taking drugs, but the MOD perpetuates this myth. - 10/24/2010 1:46:13 AM
  • Wow, this actually made me tear up. - 7/8/2010 7:25:16 PM
    Very good article, I believe life is worth living if there is a great balance of everything that make someone feel good inside out. It varies from person to person. For some people it might be either or spiritual, mental, psychological, physical , financial. But, they will not be achieved without maximum efforts. As soon as the goal is met. Everything else are history. - 10/24/2009 11:18:02 PM
  • This is by far one of the best, most inspiring stories I have ever read!! - 10/24/2009 10:40:27 PM
  • Thank you so much for sharing this man's story. - 10/24/2009 6:08:51 PM