Can an ultrarunner beat the world’s best cyclists to Paris?
Have you ever wondered what it might take to run the entire course of the Tour de France cycling race?
Zoe Romano, an ultrarunner from Richmond, Va., is going to try and find out. Beginning on May 18, the 25-year-old freelance writer and Spanish tutor began what she hopes will be a 65-day, 2,000-mile journey along the exact course the world’s top cyclists will cover from June 29-July 21 in the 100th Tour de France.
To reach the finish in Paris, she’ll have to average more than 30 miles per day, taking every ninth day off to rest and recover. It will take her an average of three days to complete each of the 21 stages that cyclists will cover in several hours. If all goes well, Romano will finish on Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris the day before the cyclists arrive.
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“It’s going to be a huge undertaking,” says Romano, who will be supported by her boyfriend, filmmaker Alex Kreher, in a support vehicle. “If you think about the whole thing at once, it can be overwhelming. Just like any endeavor in life, you should always just think of the next step, even though you’ll always have the end goal in mind.”
Romano is no stranger to big running endeavors. In 2011, she ran solo for 2,867 miles across the U.S. while raising money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, becoming the first woman to complete the transcontinental run without a support vehicle. (She pushed a jogging stroller most of the way with gear, food and hydration supplies.)
Romano is running to raise awareness for the World Pediatric Project, a Richmond-based organization that provides surgical and diagnostic health care to children in Central American and Caribbean countries.
This piece first appeared in the May issue of Competitor magazine.