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2022 GOLD Winner!
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Running the World is the 2022 Gold Winner in the Coffee Table Book category of the Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Awards!

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See the world through the eyes of runner, dreamer, and hardworking free spirit Melissa Corley Carter in this stunning book of photography and inspirational reflection.

As she runs marathons on each of the seven continents, she embarks on journeys of physical and personal discovery, finding new elements to the beauty of life and what makes it all worthwhile.

This book will take you on a visual tour around the world while sharing guidance and philosophy for running your world.

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Order directly from Melissa to receive a signed and personalized copy!
For Melissa Corley Carter, setting lofty goals—and crushing them—has always been the norm.

When she discovered a passion for running, she immediately set out to run a marathon.

And when that aspiration was conquered, of course she couldn't stop there.

Riding the postrace rush of completing that first marathon, she soon resolved to run at least six more: one on each continent. She decided to run the world. 

See this world through Melissa's eyes on her journey as a runner, dreamer, and hardworking free spirit to whom nothing is off limits.

Raw, personal photos taken during her races capture the beauty and variety of these diverse landscapes while her words of determination, struggle, self-reflection, and triumph show how life itself is a marathon too.

It may be difficult, full of challenges and hills, but at the crest of those hills, we find rest and peace; that ringing feeling of true success; and the strength to conquer the next challenge we face and every hill after.
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A rocket scientist and Air Force officer turned writer, artist, and EPIC LIFE Coach, Dr. Melissa Corley Carter helps rockstar humans own their awesomeness and live epic lives.

A certified professional coach who holds two engineering degrees from Stanford University, an MBA from the University of New Mexico, and a PhD in astronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, Melissa brings a unique blend of art and science to her work.

Melissa is a firm believer that your EPIC LIFE actually is rocket science. She'll help you let go to lift off, acknowledge your progress and adjust course, and go from where you are to where you want to be. 

A barefoot/minimalist running enthusiast and hot yoga practitioner, Melissa also loves creating collages, handcrafting unique greetings cards, and photographing wildlife, landscapes, seasons, and other forms of progression.

She dances with the universe daily and joyfully embodies her soul's journey as The Barefoot Dancing Rocket Scientist.
“I’ve always said, ‘If you want to find out what you’re made of, run a marathon.’ If you want to find out who you are, run many marathons. Melissa gives us all a wonderful insider’s view of how the path to perfection lies in the moment-to-moment choices we make, combined with our ability to let go of control . . . A great read and a beautiful book.”

—Danny Dreyer
of Danny and Katherine Dreyer, Authors of ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running and ChiWalking: Fitness Walking for Lifelong Health and Energy


"Even if you're a sprinter like me, you'll love getting into the mind of a marathoner and, more, seeing the world's beauty through Melissa's lens."

—Steven Sashen
CEO, Xero Shoes
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"Beautiful, inspiring, and illuminating, Melissa Corley Carter's story and photos take you through her life's journey, sharing her dreams and disappointments as she continues to follow her own path and inspire others."

—Lynne Cox
Author of Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer


"Melissa has spent a lifetime challenging herself professionally and on many fields of play. I commend her on her accomplishments and to have the courage to chronicle her achievements in Running the World."

—Thom Gilligan
Antarctica Marathon Race Director, Seven Continents Club Founder
"I am always on a quest for fun, and Melissa shows how she translated her love of running into a fun way to see the world! No passport required—just an open mind to experience a great adventure across the seven continents! Through the people Melissa met, the photographs she took, and the marathons she completed, I felt like I had traveled with her. Bravo! What a great inspiration this journey has been for me!"

—Gail Nogle
MPhotog, CR, F-ASP
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"Everything about this book is impelling. It is spiritually inspirational, physically motivating, and the personal stories are compelling. The photography is beyond compare - absolutely breathtaking! The author is one of those individuals who not only seizes the day, but also learns from every experience and adventure. I am grateful that she so eloquently shared all of this with us."


"This is one of the most beautiful and inspiring books I have ever read. The pictures are magnificent, and the writing is inspirational."


"I really enjoyed this book. Melissa Corley Carter has a sympathetic writing style that allows the reader to understand the appeal of running marathons, and the life challenges they may symbolize, even if they never intend to run one. There’s also a refreshing honesty in Melissa’s telling of her life story through marathons, particularly in moments of heartbreak when certain life goals became impossible. The lovely photographs add a tangible realism to what might seem like an entirely hypothetical and unrealistic endeavor to most of us – running a marathon on all 7 continents! All in all, a beautiful and inspirational book."
"The quest: to run a marathon on each of the seven continents. The outcome: success. The story and photos: beautiful, inspiring, moving, and smile-worthy! I especially smiled at Melissa's opening story about "training" with her Appaloosa mare, who had ideas of her own. (Appaloosa owners will understand!) And I was especially moved by the story about the grueling Great Wall Marathon in China. The photographs throughout are awesome, the accomplishments are amazing, and the life lessons shared are meaningful. Enjoy the book!"


"Running the World is a delightful book that sparks positivity and helps change our perspectives.
The photos are thoughtfully presented and help enhance the enchanting stories. Melissa is a gifted, deep writer with inspiring and insightful observations of people and herself. Especially during COVID, a book like this is a treasure to read and ponder."


"I'm not a runner and you'd have to pay me to participate in a marathon, but this book is packed full of value and life lessons. Whether you're interested in running across 7 continents like Melissa or looking for some inspiration to get back into working out post-2020, this book is for you. The photographs are amazing, and seeing Melissa evolve through the chapters is inspiring."


"This is a beautiful book and also an insight into Melissa's character. The photography is exquisite. It shows she is aware of her surroundings and has an eye for detail often missed by most. I looked at each photo and read the descriptions. That was a way to travel the world while never leaving home. Then I went back through the book leisurely reading about each experience by continent. What a lovely, personal story she told. I was so impressed with the book, I have given it twice as gifts. Congratulations to Melissa for not only accomplishing the seven continents marathons but for documenting that experience so beautifully."


"I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Melissa's marathons. She is not only adventurous and determined, she is a genuinely good person. Her photography is outstanding and pulls you in on a personal level."
Find podcast interviews and more on my Interviews & Speaking page under "Conversations with Melissa."

Podcasts and other conversations will be added as they air.

Grab your copy of the Prologue to Running the World!


A journey from inauspicious running beginnings to completing a marathon on all seven continents. An integration of doing and being. An evolution of lifestyle and dreams. A celebration of life itself. All shared in a warm and conversational style.


If you're looking for the clarity, courage, and confidence to live your own epic life, this is for you!

Want to receive a weekly photo from "Running the World" along with actionable inspiration and updates?

Woohoo! Check your inbox for the chapter, and enjoy!

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