Lucky seven

Meet a Tiger who has run a marathon on all seven continents.

Published on Show Me Mizzou August 25, 2022
Story by Sarah Protzman Howlett, BJ ’04

portrait of Katrina Pon

Photo by Bill Greenblatt

Katrina Pon is recently back from Antarctica, where she ran a marathon in freezing temperatures and 40 mph wind gusts. During her student days at Mizzou, she started running a mile or 3 to get in shape, but things have since escalated: Now 44, she’s run a marathon on all seven continents.

Back in the early 2000s, as Pon, BS Acc, BS BA, M Acc ’99, accompanied a then-boyfriend on runs, she began to wonder what more her body could do. Initially, she trained in isolation: She moved to Toronto for work and didn’t know anyone, so she’d prepare herself and travel to races alone. By 2006, she had completed a half-marathon and a half-Ironman; to date, she has completed nine Ironmans.

Once Pon moved back to St. Louis, she joined a U.S. Masters swim class and a triathlon club. At long last, she had found like-minded, training-focused folks and went on to travel with many of them on “race-cations.”

Fellow racers understand one another in ways nonathletes don’t, Pon says. “I would go out with some of my girlfriends and be tired at 9 p.m. because I had gotten up super early to train. They don’t get why you have to be away eight or nine hours on a weekend. With my triathlon friends, if we have a party, everybody goes to bed early. We have to get up and work out. We eat the same kinds of foods; we’re adventurous A-types.”

She and husband Aaron Hughes, BS HES ’91, often race together. In fact, he proposed to her in Indiana after a half-Ironman. “He carried the ring all through the bike and the run,” she says.

Pon aims to run a half-marathon in each U.S. state before she turns 50 — so far, she’s up to 32. But mostly, she says, “I really could care less about the race. I only sign up for something if my friends are going, too.”

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