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First American Woman to Complete (and Win!) the World Marathon Challenge

Amazing Alumna Becca Pizzi '02

Becca Pizzi '02 started running when she was six years old and hasn't really stopped. Before she joined the Mars Hill cross country team in the fall of 1998, she completed her longest run at the time—the Boston Marathon—at the age of 17. More recently, Becca completed one challenge that no other American woman had before. She ran seven marathons on each of the seven continents in seven days.

In late January, Becca not only won the women's race of the World Marathon Challenge, she also broke the female record for the challenge in a time of 6 days 18 hours 38 minutes. The journey to completing this challenge began in January 2015 when Becca signed up for the race. The race is capped at 15 people, and she was one of three Americans to run it this year.

Becca lives in Belmont, MA, with her 8-year-old daughter, Taylor. In between working two jobs and being a mom, Becca had to fit in two-a-day workouts, often running before her daughter woke up and doing personal training, Crossfit or yoga after Taylor went to sleep at night. When asked what motivated her to sign up for this challenge, she replied, "I love to travel, I love to run and I thought it would be the ultimate test of endurance and strength. What an honor to represent our country. It was my goal to show Taylor that you can do anything you put your mind to, and to believe in yourself."

Taylor was a big influence in Becca's decision to sign up for The World Marathon Challenge. "Without her on board, I would not have done it. We have learned a lot about continents and where I ran."

Pizzi had a lot of support on each continent with friends and family members joining along the route, including several Mars Hill alumni who showed up and cheered her on in Miami. Mars Hill University cross country and track coach Mike Owens was at the finish line in Miami to surprise Becca.

The World Marathon Challenge started in Antarctica and then traveled to Punta Arenas, Chile; Miami, Florida; Madrid, Spain; Marrakech, Morocco; Dubai, UAE; and finally Sydney, Australia. During the race in Dubai, Becca suffered a groin injury. Once the challenge was completed, she took three weeks off and is now injury-free.

Becca's achievement has not gone unnoticed across the country. She's been the topic of reports in newspapers, television, and radio. The town of Belmont held a parade in her honor when she arrived home from Australia and proclaimed February 4th as Becca Pizzi Day. Becca has also teamed up with the Boston Marathon to do motivational talks.

The following is a brief Q&A with Becca:

What is one of your favorite memories running at Mars Hill? I LOVED running for MHU and Coach Owens is my favorite. He was very fatherly and very proud of us. We worked very hard and made it to Nationals in cross country.

Which was your favorite continent to run on? "Antarctica! Despite being freezing, we ran on a glacier and it was beautiful!" What was the most memorable moment of the challenge? When my parents got to see me finish the World Marathon Challenge on Skype! And seeing Coach Owens in Miami. I was out of my mind happy. He always believed in me and it was surreal having him there.

Can you tell us a little more about what logistically happened by the scenes? How did you recover from each race and where did you change in between the races? We crossed the finish line, got bussed back to the hotel where we would shower, eat at the restaurant, and then head to the airport. There were 12 hours in between Madrid and Morocco, so we showered in an employee restaurant, ate there, and headed to the airport. At all times in the seven days, we were eating, sleeping, running, or flying. I used compression tights and socks to avoid calf cramping and doubled up on Ultima Replenisher, my electrolyte of choice.

Were there any events that were questionable in terms of getting started on time or flights going as planned? We took a punt in Antarctica. We ran the first lap (of four), hoping the plane was on its way. When we finished the first of four loops, we knew it was en route from Chile. We were expecting a storm, so lucky for us it held out or everything would have been delayed.

Becca has a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states. She has run marathons in 27 states and plans to run her 16th Boston Marathon in April.

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