The first ever World Marathon Challenge finished in Sydney, Australia on Friday (January 23) after a gruelling series of seven marathons in seven days, across seven continents - one of the toughest footraces in the world.

Twelve competitors - eleven men and one woman, later joined by others - completed 183 miles on foot, travelling approximately 24,000 in total over the week period, experiencing temperature variations of 50 degrees celsius and sleeping and eating on the flights between the locations.

That, said organiser Richard Donovan, was one of the most difficult parts of the competition.

"So you've got temperature fluctuations, flying, you know, not ideal, you probably won't be sitting eating meals on the way, you know a lot of airline food en route, and you know that combination of issues is what they're really facing," he said.

"None of us have done anything like this because it's never really been done before, so it's going to be interesting to see how it works. At the moment everyone's happy, but I'm sure there's going to be times when that isn't the case," said competitor John O'Shea.

At each location, local running experts ensured that all the marathons ran on the custom made courses were the correct precise distance, while the timings on location for each race were tightly controlled to ensure the competition could be completed on time.

Beginning at the Union Glacier Camp, the only private seasonally occupied camp in the Antarctic, deep within the Antarctic Circle, the challenge started on an overcast evening on January 17, where temperatures fluctuated between -5 and -15 degrees celsius.

The first to cross the finish line was David Gethiing from Hong Kong, in a time of 3:21:35, with Australian Doug Wilson coming in second some 30 minutes later.

Once the marathon was finished, the athletes climbed into an adapted Russian Ilyushin transport aircraft, flying to Punta Arenas in Chile, 4 hours and 30 minutes away.

With no chance for rest except for the hours spent in the air, they were then battling heavy winds instead of snow in the city, which lies on the edge of the Straits of Magellan.

Despite the windy conditions, Gething set the early pace and won the second marathon in 3:23:01.

From Punta Arenas it was then a 15 hour flight via Santiago, the Chilean Capital, to the sunny city of Miami the third leg and an early start for the athletes, where Aussie Doug Wilson took top honours in a time of 3:41:28

Following an eight hour transatlantic trip to the Spanish Capital Madrid and Casa de Campo Park just two miles from the city centre was the location, where a fierce rivalry for overall top honours was developing as David Gething wins the race in 3:36:06 with Douglas Wilson coming in second in 3:36:21.

The athletes left Madrid and took the shorter hop to Marrakech, where they embarked on a nighttime run in the pouring rain. Doug Wilson finishes first in 4:20:36, where the inevitability of exhaustion and fatigue, and the demands of travel were all starting to take their toll

Dubai followed Marrakech, where the athletes assembled in blistering sunshine and hot conditions for the start of the race.

The finish saw overall leaders Doug Wilson and David Gething crossing the line together, before taking the long haul flight of 17 hours to Sydney, where all expectations were focused on the final race beginning at midnight.

Gething had, at that point, accumulated a 44 minute and 31 second advantage over Wilson, who eventually won his home leg, in a time of 3:17:11 - the fastest marathon of the week.

But despite Wilson's efforts, second placed Gething did enough to win the Inaugural World Marathon Challenge Champion title.

Marianna Zaikova subsequently became the first woman to run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.