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Runner completes ambitious sweep of six major marathons by age 30

'It's surreal': Years after swapping out her ballet shoes with running shoes, Sault-born athlete Miranda Ferris recently finished every major marathon race in the world; she joins roughly 600 Canadians who have ever accomplished the feat

Seven years ago, Miranda Ferris didn’t consider herself a runner.

But earlier this month, the Korah IB graduate joined an illustrious list of 600 Canadians who have completed all six world marathon majors in New York, Chicago, Boston, London, Berlin, and Tokyo.

Ferris achieved the impressive feat before her 31st birthday – an adventurous goal she had set for herself back in 2017.

As a competitive dancer with Sherry Walsh Academy of Dance Arts growing up, the idea of completing a 42-kilometre race, or even just running long-distance, was nothing short of unimaginable.

“I never participated in many sports because dance took up six to seven days of my week,” Ferris said. “Dance was definitely my focus; running was never really my thing. I ran cross-country in grade school because everyone was doing it. But I never took it seriously and did not enjoy it.”

After completing her bachelor’s at Ivey Business School in London, Ont., Ferris moved to Toronto in 2015 to begin her career in finance and investing.

Sensing she wasn’t getting enough exercise as her extracurriculars were in the rear-view mirror, the former dancer decided to get the legs moving again – this time, in a different capacity.

“I started running for exercise,” she said. “I’d do five-kilometre runs, it was very minimal running. In hindsight, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I did some workout classes in the city too. It was just for fun.”

In 2016, Ferris’ employer asked if she’d like to take part in a 10-kilometre run. That idea sparked a conversation with a friend of hers around Toronto’s annual half-marathon in the fall.

“I thought maybe I’ll do that, but there’s something about the half-marathon that felt like a cheat because there’s already a full marathon,” she said. “I didn’t like the idea of only doing half of something – it kind of bothered me. My friend said if you’re going to do a full marathon, then you should do the one in New York.”

Several months of vigorous training later, that’s exactly what she did.

“Every practice run I was doing was the longest I had ever done,” she said. “I was slowly adding more distance every week before the big race. Looking back, it’s funny because I just didn’t have experience. I didn’t know the things you should do nutrition-wise, or what time I should wake up. I started New York really fast and slowed down the second half because I hit an absolute wall.”

Hoping to finish her first-ever marathon in less than four hours, Ferris ended up crossing the finish line at four hours and 14 seconds.

But the result didn’t matter – she was hooked.

“When I crossed the finish line, it was the most incredible experience I ever had,” she said. “That was by far the hardest thing I had ever done, from the training and being consistent with running for four months, and then the race itself. It was a really emotional experience.”

Following the 2017 race, Ferris began researching marathons and read a blog post from a woman who chose to run in the Abbot World Marathon Majors before turning 30 years old.

“I didn’t even know what that was at that point in time,” she said. “I was 24 when I finished the New York marathon, and I figured if I train well, I could qualify for Boston and run all six before I’m 30.”

Needing a qualifying time of three hours and 30 minutes to compete in the world-famous Boston Marathon, Ferris began training with a new coach and team in January 2018.

Her efforts paid off as she completed Chicago’s marathon in three hours and 21 minutes in October of that same year.

Next year, she raced in Berlin and completed that race two minutes quicker.

Having planned to run the Boston Marathon in April 2020, Ferris’ plans came to a halt when the pandemic cancelled the event.

“Boston was a year of training for nothing essentially,” she said. “It was a really hard time.”

While the Boston Marathon returned in October 2021, Ferris decided to run in Chicago for a second time since the comradery of Boston’s event wasn’t fully recovered from COVID.

Recording an impressive qualifying time of three hours and 14 minutes in Chicago, Ferris took just two weeks off before she began six months of training again for Boston.

Joined by some friends, she completed the Boston Marathon in three hours and 12 minutes in April 2022.

With just two major races to go, Ferris ran in London last year despite dealing with a knee injury.

Then earlier this month, she completed the Tokyo Marathon with a personal best finish of three hours and six minutes – nearly one hour faster than her first marathon in New York several years prior.

Ferris was the seventh Canadian female to cross the finish line in Tokyo, capping off a rare and stunning sweep of the Abbot World Marathon Majors in six of the world’s most famous cities.

Thirty pairs of shoes and more than 200,000 competitive steps later, the feeling still hasn’t quite sunk in for the former dancer.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “Sometimes you have to look back and really appreciate where you’ve come, because you get caught up with where you’re not yet.”

“In the early days, I remember sitting on the couch in the mornings thinking I don’t want to do this,” she added. “But when I want to finish something, it has to be finished in completion and not partly done. It lends really well to marathon training because you have to be consistent.”

Although she’s not exactly sure what will come next in her running career, Ferris is looking forward to finding new races to compete in and would like to achieve even more milestones.

“Because I ran well in Tokyo, breaking three hours is a big goal in marathon running, so I’ve started to set my eyes on that,” she said. “If more races keep coming, it will be hard not to keep chasing the next one and the next one.”

While she’s still living and working in Toronto full-time, Ferris told SooToday she’d even consider constructing and organizing a marathon in her hometown one day.

But above all, she hopes her journey can help inspire younger people to take risks and pursue their passions, particularly those who feel they don’t fit in.

“When I was a kid, I felt counted out from every sport,” Ferris said. “All my friends were really athletic, but I thought I’m not like them, so I can’t fit in with them. I’m the dancer girl and will just be the dancer girl. You put yourself into these buckets.”

“If you didn’t make the track team, it’s easy to say, ‘Okay, I can’t run.’ But there’s other races to run in the Sault, and you can run in them. There are other ways to be active without having to fit in the box of what the teacher or coach wants you to be.”

“It’s so structured when you’re young,” she added. “But you realize when you get older you can do what ever you want to do. Don’t let someone else tell you that you can’t do it.”

Soo Today

Alex Flood

About the Author: Alex Flood

Alex is a recent graduate from the College of Sports Media where he discovered his passion for reporting and broadcasting
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