It’s not the last bastion of sport where men compete and women are not seen – except on the dais with champagne – but it’s getting close to it. As you read this, Zoe Romano is quietly making history.
Le Tour, the annual multi-stage cycling race known as the Tour de France is a feat of endurance, fitness, guile and mental stamina – all amongst picturesque rural France culminating in that last triumphant ride along the Champs Elysee in Paris. Unfortunately, the sport has been tarnished in recent years because of cheating amongst many of its competitors, most notably Lance Armstrong.
It’s a race that is only open to men – but one woman has set out to prove that if you can’t join them, then beat them.
Zoe, from Richmond, Virginia in the US is a runner and writer. She has already set out on her quest to run the route of this year’s Tour de France with the aim of finishing in Paris on 21st July.
It means she’ll be running more than 48 kilometres a day – more than a marathon - for 64 days to complete the 3,300 kilometre route.
Zoe is not a stranger to long distance running. Two years ago, she became the first woman to complete the 4,300 kilometre run across the US without a support crew. Her very long distance effort helped raise raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
This time, she’s fundraising for the World Paediatric Project (WPP) which provides paediatric surgical, diagnostic and preventative resources to help critically ill children in developing countries, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean.
"I'm always looking for a challenge and running is how I challenge myself. After accomplishing my run across the US two years ago, I was eager to set another goal," Romano said. "I want to use the run to save young lives. I partnered with World Pediatric Project because their mission speaks to me. These children are going through their own incredible challenges, and I'm running for them."
Zoe started her run in Nice on 18th May and has completed more than 1,300 kilometres. She hopes to raise $100,000 for WPP.
"Each person that hears about this project is awed and inspired. We just can't wait to hug her when she crosses the finish," said Susan Rickman, CEO of World Pediatric Project.
"The money raised during the campaign will send four paediatric teams to developing countries on a week-long surgery mission and bring four children to the US for more complex care."
You can support Zoe and her causing by making a donation here. Donations of more than US$25 also receive a ‘Team Zoe’ t-shirt and updates while on the road. Meanwhile, check out the video of Week 3 of Zoe’s run with this film clip from University of Virginia student, Alexander Kreher.