Zoë Romano featured on TODAY

The Richmonder and her amazing run has received more national press.

Zoe Romano profile

Update #5 — August 13, 2013; 12:34 PM

The Today Show recently featured Zoe Romano and her Tour de France run (see bottommost post).

Here’s the segment:

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Update #4 — July 18, 2013; 10:05 AM

Zoë Romano is expected to cross the Tour de France finish line on Saturday, one day ahead of the cyclists (see bottommost post). However, because the exact course wasn’t announced until after Romano began her run, she’ll have to backtrack and run the final 300 miles in Corsica next week. On the last day, she’ll attempt 90 miles in 24 hours.

Since starting in Nice, France on May 20th, Romano has averaged nearly 30 miles each day. She’s also helped raise over $132,000 for the World Pediatric Project. She hopes to raise $150,000 by the time she completes her run on August 2nd.

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Update #3 — July 8, 2013; 11:12 AM

ESPN recently published this article about Zoë Romano, who is currently running the Tour de France course (see bottommost post).

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Update #2 — June 13, 2013; 9:40 AM

Zoë Romano has completed the third week of her eight-week-long run of the Tour de France course (see below).  Here’s a glimpse at how she’s doing:

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Update #1 — June 4, 2013; 10:19 AM

Zoë Romano is in the second week of her eight-week Tour de France run (see below). Here’s a recap of her run so far:

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Original — May 10, 2013

Last November, thousands crowded Richmond streets to participate in the Richmond Marathon, a 26-mile race that tested everyone who took part in it. Zoë Romano will soon too run a marathon–every day for eight weeks straight when she runs the course of the Tour de France.

Romano is no stranger to marathon marathons. In 2011, she ran 2,867 miles across the US over nine weeks–roughly 30 miles in six hours, each day.

Although an athletic child, Romano didn’t take to running. “I always played team sports growing up,” she said. But when the Maine native joined her high school indoor track and field team, she “hated” it. “I didn’t start running, and enjoying it, until I was in college.”

In 2005, she enrolled at the University of Richmond, majoring in both Spanish and International Studies. In summer 2006, she went on a backpacking trip to Paris. Romano found herself sprinting through Parisian streets, dashing from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower. “I came home from that trip and didn’t stop running.”

She ran each morning, often between the UR campus and Pony Pasture, and soon developed the stamina to run a full hour (“I thought I was invincible,” she said). In the fall of 2006, she ran her first half-marathon. Her running routine expanded to nine miles each weekday–and weekends weren’t for relaxing. “I probably [ran] a marathon [equivalent] every Saturday.”

Among other things, she loved the solitude of running. “I’ve always been a person who needed alone time to decompress and recharge my batteries.” Running requires little effort on her part. “It’s just something that’s so natural,” she said. “I’ve never finished a run and thought, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that.’”

Across the country

Romano was anxious after she graduated from UR in 2009. “I was having that thought of: what’s my career path going to be now that I’m graduated?” Out of school, and with time on her hands, Romano decided she would test herself by running across the US, becoming the first woman ever to do so without a support vehicle.

She pushed a stroller filled with camping gear, daily provisions of food and water, clothes, books, a journal. She also carried pepper spray and an air horn. “I was really afraid of wild dogs when I started.”

Zoe Romano running US

Taken during Zoë’s run across the US

She began in Huntington Beach, CA and ended in Charleston, SC. “The first two weeks were actually the hardest,” she said. She pushed herself too quickly in the initial days, averaging 35 daily miles. Her body hadn’t yet conditioned itself to run in step with her zeal. But it did soon enough. “What really ended up happening was that my body adapted and I got stronger.” After crossing into Texas, she again averaged 35 miles each day, this time without fatigue.

In addition to breakfast and dinner, she’d stop mid-day to eat, usually fruit, tortillas, or peanut butter. She coordinated roughly 60 percent of her lodging before she left. But as the news of her journey preceded her arrival in towns across the country, residents and churches opened their doors to take her in. “It was a very unique window into small town America,” she said.

Her cross-country run raised $15,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of America. Most of the money came, not from sponsors, but from individuals inspired by what she’d done.

Vive la France!

Last summer, Romano began writing a book about her cross-country experience. It made her restless. “The more that I wrote, the more I got antsy to do another adventure.” She had only one stipulation about any new run: “It’s got to be more challenging” than the last one.

Romano enjoyed cycling, and her thoughts soon turned to the Tour de France, the pinnacle event of the sport. She looked at the logistics of the race and concluded that it was possible to run.

Whereas her US trek was on relatively flat terrain, the Tour de France is “more intense on the elevation because of the Alps and the Pyrénées,” Romano said. “[It’s] one of the most toughest, grueling events” in cycling, let alone running. The elevation changes alone are the equivalent of three-and-a-half Mount Everest climbs.

Romano’s training regiment is similar to the one she employed ahead of her 2011 cross-country run. She started by running six miles each day, and then upped her output 10 percent each successive week. Since January, she’s traveled to the Blue Ridge Mountains at least once per week to simulate traversing France’s mountainous terrain.1

But running uphill is not her chief concern. “Going downhill is much harder on your body,” she said. Runners can overstep when on a decline, throwing their form out of whack and encouraging injury.2 She said that diminished oxygen at high altitudes will also add difficulty.

Romano will begin her journey on May 18th, over a month ahead of the Tour de France cyclists. Her estimated itinerary will have her crossing the finish line on July 20th, one day ahead of cyclists.

Alexander Kreher, a German-born photographer and filmmaker currently studying at VCU, will travel alongside her in a car (with her supplies) and film her journey for a documentary. Her Tour de France run will also help raise $100,000 for World Pediatric Project–$6,000 of which has already been earned before she’s taken her first steps.

“I’m excited and nervous,” Romano said about her impending run across France. “Mostly I’m just anxious to get on the road and get started.”

Visit Zoë Goes Running for more information about Zoë and her Tour de France run. She will also speak at this week’s Friday Cheers concert, and be available to meet at a tent throughout the event.

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Footnotes

  1. She also trains for the incline running on a treadmill. 
  2. She once pulled a hamstring while on a decline during her US run. 
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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

3 comments on Zoë Romano featured on TODAY

  1. thecheckoutgirl on said:

    Totally my inspiration. Go Zoë Go!

  2. Tim L. on said:

    Nathan: I’m confused: How can Zoe Romano be both a “RVA native” (headline) and a “Maine native” (Paragraph 3 of the article)??

  3. Nathan Cushing on said:

    @Tim – Thanks for commenting. You’re right, she’s a native of Maine, but based in RVA. I’ve clarified the headline to avoid any confusion.

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