#14 Guinness Record Holder: Team Winter
Sitting on the sofa in her family’s Michigan home in 2009, thumbing through the Guinness World Records, 10-year-old Winter Vinecki was surprised to find that the record for the youngest person to complete a marathon on every continent was held by a 27-year-old man.
“I can beat that,” she declared. “For Dad.” And she had every reason to believe she could.
A natural athlete since the age of 5, Winter had been keeping stride with her mom and uncle, both triathletes, and competing in races across the country. Soon, her name was appearing at the top of the leaderboard in national competitions. Trophies lined her walls.
But in 2008, at the age of 9, Winter stopped racing for medals. In May of that year, her father found out he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. To raise awareness and funds to fight the disease, Winter started a nonprofit called Team Winter. Just 10 months after his diagnosis, her father passed away.
Over the next three years, Winter placed first in 20 of the 37 races in which she competed, including four Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships, two USA Triathlon Youth National Championships, and three IronKids U.S. Championships, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade average at Stanford’s prestigious online high school. Along the way, she raised over $400,000 to help find a cure for Prostate cancer..
Now 13, Winter is working on her world record to win her cause a place in the Guinness World Records. She recently completed her first marathon in Eugene, Oregon, a race normally limited to runners over 16, finishing in an amazing 3:45:04.
“I’m used to racing with adults, and I think it’s kind of fun to race past them,” said Winter before the race.
With six continents to go, Winter has just begun a journey that will take her two years. Next, she’s headed to Africa to run the Amazing Maasai Ultra in Kenya on September 29.
“Every time I step to a starting line,” Winter says, “I have one thought in mind: keeping my dad’s spirit alive.