PORTLAND, Maine — A Portland woman is in Europe, completing the Tour de France course. On foot.
Zoe Romano, 26, a Portland native, is running the over-2,000-mile course ahead of cyclists in the 100th edition of the storied bicycle race. If all goes as planned, she will average 30 miles a day and finish on Saturday, July 20, a day before the Tour peloton is projected to finish in Paris, according to her website.
If Romano completes the course, she will be the first runner to do so, according to ESPN. It wouldn’t be the first time she has made history. In 2011, she became the first woman to run across the U.S. without a support crew, instead pushing a stroller containing her gear the 3,000 miles from Huntington Beach, Calif., to Charleston, S.C.
On Monday, she wrote in her blog that she had completed the first ascent of Alpe d’Huez, an infamous climb up mountain switchbacks which the peloton is not expected to tackle until Thursday, July 18. On the same day, the cyclists rested, having finished Stage 9 from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre through the Pyrenees mountains the day before, a task Romano completed almost exactly a month earlier.
(For those doing the napkin math, given Romano and the Tour’s respective starts of May 18 and June 29, it took Romano 23 days to cover the same ground the Tour covered in 9 days, or an average of about 2½ days running for everyday cycling. If Romano and the Tour stick to schedule, that ratio will increase to about 2¾ days of running per day of cycling.)
In a 2010 interview with The Forecaster, Romano said she hated running when she attended Portland High School.
“I did soccer, softball and I swam,” she said at the time. “But the summer after my first year of college, I finally ran the whole [Baxter] Boulevard without stopping — it felt so amazing. Now it takes 22 miles to get that same feeling.”
According to her website, however, the undertaking is “less about a run, and more about living life, conquering fears, pursuing our dreams, and saving the lives of children who need our help,” referring to the charitable cause for which she is running, the World Pediatric Project.
Her 2011 cross-country run also was charitable, raising money for the Boys and Girls Club of America.
“It means so much getting the kids involved,” Romano told The Forecaster in 2010. “You might feel invincible at that age, but I just want to show them that you actually can run across the country if you want to. You can do anything.”