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Woman eyes record with run across America

A jog around the block is about as far as some people can run. Others consider it exhausting to sit for hours on a cross-country flight.

So imagine running not just around the block — or flying across the U.S. — but instead finishing the equivalent of two marathons a day while running across the country.

That’s what endurance athlete Jessica Goldman has set out to do as she heads out on a run across America.

Goldman’s goal is to raise money to help people suffering from brain injuries while also trying to break the record for the fastest female to cross America on foot.

Goldman began her cross-country odyssey on a sunny and beautiful Bay Area day, springing away from the steps of San Francisco City Hall around 8:15 a.m. Wednesday as Mayor Ed Lee, other dignitaries and supporters cheered her on.

Her journey, if all goes well, will cover nearly 3,000 miles in 63 days.  She expects to reach the steps of New York City Hall on June 18.

On Thursday near Tracy, Goldman found her progress slowed by a wind storm and a pack of ferocious dogs. After someone with a tractor rescued her from the dogs, Goldman made it to Tracy after nightfall for well-earned rest.

As of Friday evening, Goldman was east of Lodi headed for Jackson on CA-88. Her progress can be tracked via an online map.

The 41-year-old Goldman, who describes herself as “underdog runner going for a world record,” is running unassisted and mostly alone, without a support crew or vehicle to carry her supplies.  She is running on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America.

Before her run, Goldman said:

“The trauma suffered by many Americans, most visibly NFL players, and less visibly veterans returning from war, is an issue I feel strongly about. I hope my effort can bring more awareness, funding, and perhaps legislation that can help us all.”

The Brain Injury Association of America advances brain injury prevention, research, treatment and education to help people with brain injuries. It also works to increase access to quality health care and raises awareness and understanding of brain injury.

Susan Connors, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America, said of Goldman’s journey:

“Jessica’s run across America is an incredible undertaking. We are grateful that she is using it to help raise awareness and funds for brain injury.”

Goldman’s goal is to raise $5 for each mile she runs.

Her epic cross-country run will take her across 11 states,  up and down mountains, through forests, across the Great Plains, and over rivers and across deserts.

Goldman’s body and brain will have to endure hot days, cold nights, rain, snow in The Sierras and Rocky Mountains, headwinds,  and man-made challenges, including traffic, inattentive drivers and maybe even some crazies.

With no support crew,  her running cadence will likely be slowed by the modified baby jogging stroller she’s pushing ahead that carries her food, clothes and other gear.

In her blog, Goldman describes her run as simply:

“A crazy, challenging, epic adventure.”

If Goldman finishes her journey in 63 days, as planned, she’ll handily beat the current women’s record for running across America.

According to Guinness World Records,  the women’s trans-American run record is held by South African Mavis Hutchinson, who completed the trek in 1978 in 69 days, 2 hours and 40 minutes.

An unofficial record is held by a Florida woman who ran across the United States in 64 days but did not file any official paperwork to confirm her run.

Goldman has crossed the country before in an endurance event, but by riding her bicycle. She managed that feat in 1999.  She has also run a number of marathons and completed a 100-mile foot race.

Goldman’s progress can be tracked through her blog. You can also donate to The Brain Injury Association to support her run and brain injury research.

John Marshall is an SFBay editor and producer and writer for San Francisco’s KGO Radio.  Follow him on Twitter @breakingnewsman.

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