South KC couple among few runners to compete on all 7 continents

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This is not a story for the sore-footed or the faint of heart. One couple from South Kansas City has seen a huge portion of the world, all while competing in the sport they love.

Think of Mike and Chau Smith's condominium as being a finish line of sorts. It's certainly the end of a long journey for the marathon runners, who have spent the past decade competing in marathons around the world.

The married couple of 31 years has just returned from another 26 mile race in Sydney, Australia, and they're believed to be two of approximately 400 runners worldwide to run in marathons on all seven continents.

The Smiths' soles are still sore, having only returned from Australia on Monday night. The Sydney run completes their circuit across the globe, adding to races they've completed in places like Athens, Beijing, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and even a small island off the coast of Antarctica.

"It's exhausting," Michael Smith, 71, said. "A marathon is just over 26 miles. It takes just over three months of preparation for us to get into shape to do that."

"I did quite a few back-to-back," Chau Smith, 68, said. "In one week, I would do a marathon and a 50k; an ultra-marathon."

Michael Smith was an avid runner when he and Chau met. That was 31 years ago. Chau Smith is originally from Vietnam, and she's relished a chance to see the world as she speeds past.

"It's great to see how people live along the way, but I have to admit, after the first five miles, you just want to finish," Chau Smith said while laughing.

Grass hasn't grown under the Smiths' feet. They've run four marathons this year, including two in a four-day stretch.

"Runners understand it, I think," Michael Smith added. "Non-runners just kind of shake their heads at us, and ask, 'Why would you do something like that?'"

While Michael Smith says he wants to back away from traveling for races, Chau says she has more races to run. She's preparing to run the Boston Marathon, which would mark the third time she's done it.

The Smiths say their run times in those marathons usually hit just above the six hour mark.

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