Photo: Becca Pizzi at the road race she has held for the past nine years
It would already be an eventful year for Belmont’s best known runner, Becca Pizzi. It’s only going to get more existing in the next two months.
The two time champion of the World Marathon Challenge began the year coaching one of Boston’s greatest pro-athletes, former Boston Bruin captain Zdeno Chára, to race his first BAA Marathon in April.
Under her tutalage and running with her in the race, the 6-foot, nine-inch retired Bruin and the 5-foot, two inch Belmontian crossed the finish line hand-in-hand in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 23 seconds.
Being on the front of the sports pages worldwide would be enough for most runners to brag about; a month later – seemingly on a dare – Pizzi entered her first ultra-marathon, a 50-kilometer race in western Massachusetts. Up against veterans in the event, the first-timer won the race outright with a winning time of 3:59:11, smashing the women’s course record by 35 minutes and was the 24th-fastest 50K performance by a woman in the United States.
“It’s still great to win at 43 years old,” she said.
It was these accomplishments that Pizzi brought to Belmont on Aug. 27 as she hosted the 9th edition of the Becca Pizzi 5K road race, a fundraiser to support student scholarships and athletic material. Under wonderful conditions, nearly 360 runners took part in the 3.1 miles race from Harris Field to the Winn Brook School and back.
Nate Jackson cruised to a convincing victory in 15 minutes and 49 seconds. Finishing runner-up was All-American championship runner from his time at Belmont High. Victor Gras still holds every distance record at Belmont High School and won numerous state titles from the early 2000s traveled from New York City where he’s a senior vice president for a really cool company, YouGov, and finished in 17:17. Shannon Bueker took home the female title with a time of 18:32, edging out Haily Desmarais who came in at 18:56.
“It was an awesome day. The community shows up so hard. It’s just a great way to give back [to the community],” said Pizzi.
And there’s more to come for Pizzi in 2023. Later this month, Pizzi will travel to Wyoming to participate in the Jackson Hole Marathon on Sept. 23, completing her goal of running 50 marathons in 50 states.
“It’s been a ten-year journey; five marathons a year. I got serious about it two years ago,” said Pizzi. “It’s an incredible way to see the US.”
Just three weeks later, on Saturday, Oct. 14, Pizzi will participate in the ultimate triathlon in the world, the 2023 Ironman World Championship Women’s Race in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Pizzi was honored by receiving one of a handful of non-qualifying slots in the famous swim-cycling-running race that covers a total of 140.6 miles.
While a great runner and a good cyclist, getting ready for a 2.4 mile ocean swim has been daunting for Pizzi.
“Not really,” Pizzi said about her swimming attributes. “I’m going to Walden Pond because you can’t train for this in a pool.”