BELMONT — Many people dream of traveling the world. Few would ever imagine doing it the way Becca Pizzi intends to.
The 35-year-old Belmont native wants to do what no other American woman has ever done before: run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
The thought alone is exhausting.
Pizzi will begin her journey on the World Marathon Challenge in Antarctica on Jan. 23. By the time she crosses the finish line in Sydney the following Saturday, she will have run marathons in Punta Arenas, Chile; Miami; Madrid; Marrakech, Morocco; and Dubai. All in the course of a week.
"This will be the toughest thing I've ever put myself — my mind and my body — through," she said during a meet-and-greet Thursday at Belmont Savings Bank.
That's saying something. Pizzi, who has been running since she was 6 years old, has completed 45 marathons in her life. Her resume includes 15 Boston Marathons and she has run one in 27 different states across the country, according to the Associated Press.
This time around, though, there will be virtually no down time between the races as she and the other 49 runners who will accompany her will average 12 hours on each continent, spending the remainder of the time in transit.
"The best way to describe it is 'eat, sleep, run, fly, repeat' for seven days," she noted.
But with the extra challenge comes an equal amount of extra support pouring out from her community.
Pizzi and her family are well known in Belmont. She runs a day-care center in Belmont and manages Moozy's ice cream shop on Trapelo Road. The support and admiration from the residents of Belmont was reflected in the more than 50 people who turned out to hear her speak and sign autographs Thursday afternoon.
"I'm very lucky to have Belmont and Belmont Savings Bank behind me," Pizzi said. "I feel very lucky that they care. We're making history and I can't do it by myself. I'm very fortunate to have so many people believe in me and so many people behind me."
Belmont Savings Bank has been especially supportive of Pizzi in her endeavour. Apart from hosting her appearance at its main branch in Belmont Center, the bank donated $1,000 to Pizzi's charity of choice: the Belmont Food Pantry. Bank President Bob Mahoney presented a check to pantry director Patty Mihelich on Thursday.
"We don't this kind of thing very often," Mahoney said of partnering with Pizzi. "In fact, we've never done this kind of thing. We've never backed an athlete. But when you have this remarkable coincidence of a customer, a neighbor, a mother in our town who's doing this extraordinary thing, you just can't let this kind of thing go by without doing something about it. It seemed like the right thing to do."
Additionally, the bank will be keeping tabs on Pizzi throughout her journey, tracking her progress on its website and posting any photos and videos she sends back from her time abroad.
Along with all the support back home, Pizzi will have plenty of helping hands and cheering fans along the way.
"I have support on every continent," she said. "Everyone from sponsors to family to training partners."
Pizzi's family will join a team from athletic-wear brand Lululemon in Miami to cheer her on during her third leg of the expedition. She also has friends meeting her overseas for support. And along the way she can rely on the support system of 49 other athletes from around the world who will be going through the very same physical and emotional challenge as her.
"I think that we're going to rely heavily on each other," she said, adding that there would always be someone around to provide "a Band-Aid, Advil, or a hug. I feel like I'm going to be needing a lot of hugs."
One hug that she'll be missing along the way is that of her 8-year-old daughter, Taylor, whom she said she would Skype with every day on the plane. Though at some points during the journey the two will be halfway around the world from each other, and though her 70- to 100-mile weekly training regimen over the past year has cut into time she was able to spend with her daughter, Pizzi credited Taylor as a huge motivator for her to take on the daunting task.
"This is an opportunity to show my daughter to believe in yourself and to show the world that you can do anything that you put your mind to."
Bailey Putnam can be reached at email@example.com.