Massachusetts woman conquered one of the greatest feats in marathon running. Twice. Her "legacy in progress" includes raising scholarship funds for student athletes in her hometown.
By COSMO MACERO JR.
Becca Pizzi likes to say running is in her DNA. With what she has accomplished, it's easy to see why.
The native of Belmont, MA achieved one of the greatest athletic feats imaginable in 2016 when she became the first American woman to complete the World Marathon Challenge - a grueling week-long odyssey to run seven marathons on seven different continents in seven days. In so doing she set the women's world record for fastest average marathon time (3:55:11) across all seven races.
Then in 2018, she did it again. This time Pizzi set the record for fastest overall time to complete the challenge, including travel time between all seven continents: 6 days, 8 hours, 12 minutes.
Both of her World Marathon Challenge triumphs are accomplishments that boggle the mind for any layperson non-runner, most recreational runners, and perhaps even many of the elite few in America (less than 1 percent) who have successfully completed a single 26.2 mile marathon.
The Challenge involves training for months or years, running the marathons, and enduring the travel between Novo (Antarctica), Cape Town (South Africa), Perth (Australia), Dubai (Asia), Madrid (Europe), Fortaleza (South America), and Miami (North America). In some of the climates - Antarctica in particular - heavy-duty winter gear and specialized running shoes for snowpack further complicate the mission. In other locations, hot race-day temperatures become oppressive and dangerous.
"When I learned about the World Marathon Challenge, I immediately wanted to compete in this event," Pizzi said prior to her first global Challenge in 2016. "This race and representing USA as the first American female runner to run this, means everything to me. But above all, I am doing this to inspire people!"
Indeed, Pizzi has not only inspired those locally who hope to follow some version of her path as a former Belmont High School competitive runner; she has built on her athletic accomplishments and hard-earned name recognition to establish the Becca Pizzi Foundation and Becca Pizzi 5k road race, which funds scholarships for Belmont student-athletes.
A look at the 2018 World Marathon Challenge race in Cape Town, South Africa - Runner's World
Long before Pizzi attacked the World Marathon Challenge, she was accumulating an impressive list of running achievements and establishing her own brand of elite athleticism. Her first race was when she was seven years old. She competed in high school and college, and over the years Pizzi has run more than 80 marathons, including 18 Boston marathons, and qualified for races in 34 U.S. states. She is a volunteer coach for several Boston-area running clubs, a product ambassador for trail running gear, and a familiar and popular employee at a local Belmont ice cream parlor. She also owns and runs a daycare business.
"Running is in my DNA. My dad is a runner and inspired me to start running when I was six years old," Pizzi explains in a profile and background piece on her web site, BeccaPIzzi.com. "I’m every runner…a real person that faces the challenges of everyday life, while making time for my sport that I am so passionate about."
Pizzi's adolescent daughter was the one who gave the record-setting runner the official green light to try and repeat her remarkable 2016 accomplishment two years later. “She’s my number one fan,” Pizzi told Runner’s World in February 2018. “She believes in me more than I believe in me.”
The final leg of the 2018 World Marathon Challenge - Runner's World
Pizzi's 5k run to support her scholarship foundation has grown to include more than 500 runners - with corporate sponsorships from Cambridge Trust Bank, a regional fitness franchise called Fitness Together, and the Lyon-Waugh Auto Group - which specializes in luxury brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Audi, and Porsche.
This Runner's World story from 2018 documents Pizzi's record-setting performance in that year's World Marathon Challenge, which required crossing 16 time zones in fewer than seven days and using the flight time for recovery and rehab from the tremendous physical strain.