BELMONT — A group of well-dressed political figures stood atop the steps of Belmont Savings Bank as hundreds of town residents crowded around, peering up in anticipation.
But it was not the bank president or the selectmen or even the state representative who had the crowd in awe Thursday afternoon. Instead, they were all fixated on a 5-foot-1-inch, T-shirt-clad woman standing by the podium: Becca Pizzi.
The 35-year-old day-care operator and ice-cream shop manager made history last week when she became the first American woman to complete the World Marathon Challenge: running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. Hundreds poured into Belmont Center to celebrate Pizzi’s homecoming Thursday, many donning blue and yellow shirts with the phrase “Becca Strong.”
Pizzi enjoyed a change of pace from the over 183 miles she ran last week, this time giving her legs a break with some help from the Belmont Fire Department. She and her family waved to cheering crowds as they snaked across town atop a fire truck.
The Belmont High School marching band provided the entrance music, belting Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” as the convoy moved down Leonard Street. By the time Pizzi had made it to the bank entrance, a crowd had gathered to march behind her.
“Am I the only one here today who feels a little bit like an underachiever?” state Representative Dave Rogers joked. “There are no words that could do justice to what you’ve accomplished. It’s beyond imagining.”
Pizzi was the first woman to cross the finish line in each of the seven marathons and had the third overall fastest time out of any of the 15 competitors, man or woman.
She was presented with citations of accomplishment from the Massachusetts Senate, House of Representatives, and one from governor Charlie Baker. Belmont Selectman Mark A. Paolillo declared Feb. 4, 2016, Becca Pizzi day, an honor that drew a wide grin from Pizzi on stage.
But the most praise was given by someone who knows her the best: her best friend and fellow day-care operator Nicole Girouard.
“Anyone that knows Becca knows that she has determination like no other,” she said. “She’s one of a kind. There need to be more people in the world like her.”
Pizzi’s own remarks were simple and sincere. She thanked her family, her friends, her sponsors, and the town of Belmont.
“We did it.”
Check out social media clips of Pizzi’s parade below: