By Sheryl Collmer, Race SLO Staff, Ultrarunning.com
She’s in Ohio. If I write too slowly, she’ll be in Pennsylvania before I finish. Sixty miles a day will get you a long way in a hurry.
From San Francisco’s City Hall, Sandra Villines has now traversed California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Ohio. That’s around 2,400 miles in 44 days.
Ultra runners know what that costs in energy, strength and mental toughness. Not to mention the nearly obsessive focus on calories, elimination and strictly positive affirmation.
Sandy is joined by ultra star Dean Karnazes, former Race SLO Ambassador and Cal Poly SLO alum, at her San Francisco start.
Sandy, the 2017 female Badwater champion, is not the first person to run across this vast continent, but she’s on track to shatter the former female speed record of 69 days set by Mavis Hutchinson of South Africa in 1978. If all goes well, Sandy will finish in 53-54 days, trotting into New York City just as 50,000 other runners descend for the New York City Marathon.
Now that’s drama! Send the film crew!
Actually, Sandy has been rather quietly running under the radar, all the way across America. Running is not particularly a spotlight sport, outside of the Olympics, and female running still less so. Maybe no one thought she would make it. Day-by-day, she’s busting that assumption.
In the heartland, Nebraska and Iowa, Sandy received especially warm treatment, with curious onlookers pulling aside to give her the road with friendly waves, running home for care packages to take back out to the highway, and alerting local runners of the opportunity to go out and run with a legend-in-the-making. Sandy’s crew amassed all sorts of homemade treats and meat (it’s cattle country out there) for Sandy from the well-wishers. The kindness she encounters en route often brings tears, as her emotions are raw at this late point in the project.
Sandy is joined by a high school cross country team in the heartland.
At the end of each day of running, Sandy climbs up into her traveling house, the RV also used by Pete Kostelnick who set the men’s trans-con record last year. This rolling behemoth is piloted by Cinder Wolff who also functions as den mother, massage therapist, chef and germ warrior. Sandy’s immune system is weakened from the prolonged exertion, and Cinder carefully protects her environment from any potential source of illness.
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