Jenny Hoffman said the feat was “something she’d always dreamed about”
Photo by Jill Yeomans
You know the old saying about if you want something, you should just go and do it? That’s exactly what Jenny Hoffman did when she crossed the US on foot—all 3,000 miles of the Lower 48—in a little over a month and a half.
Earlier this month, Hoffman, a 45-year-old American physicist and Harvard physics professor, arrived in New York City after setting out from San Francisco. She completed the cross-country run after 47 days, 12 hours, and 35 minutes.
Though the feat itself is impressive enough, what’s even more astounding is that this run set a new world record for the fastest time a woman has run across the US, beating the previous one held by Sara Villines, another runner, by a week.
For those who can’t quite grasp it, crossing the country seven days faster is a world of difference from beating the record by minutes or hours. That’s true talent, training, and laser-like focus.
“It’s something I have dreamed about, crossing this country under my own power, since I was a child,” Hoffman said in a recent interview with NPR.
“Every single day, every moment that I wasn’t actively doing something else, it was there in the background as something that I just knew that I wanted to do. I would be driving, and I would see the open road ahead of me, and I would say, ‘I could be running this.’ It just kind of permeated everything”
“Once I got it in my head, I just couldn’t let go. Every single day, every moment that I wasn’t actively doing something else, it was there in the background as something that I just knew that I wanted to do. I would be driving, and I would see the open road ahead of me, and I would say, ‘I could be running this.’ It just kind of permeated everything.”
Hoffman already attempted the run in 2019, but an unfortunate knee injury stopped her far from the destination at 2,560 miles. Since then, she visualized the ultimate completion of this huge goal, keeping her going as she went through surgery, rehab, and training to get back to peak cross-country condition.
She also said that the main difference that got her through this run is the power of gratitude, where she was still grieving the passing of her father in her first attempt. Make no mistake though: This is not an attempt at an extreme physical feat that can be made alone. Along the way, friends, her crew, and strangers showed their kindness and support, such as a farmer in Nebraska giving her a dozen eggs fresh from her chickens to help feed her.
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“I did not do this alone, and I am overwhelmed by gratitude for the many friends who gave their time and energy, sacrificed their sleep and comfort, and passed up other opportunities to achieve this goal,” she said in a post on her blog on the Harvard website.
For others who may be dreaming of something big like Hoffman, the fact that she’s in her 40s means anyone can do it—all they have to do is take that literal first step and work up to it. For example, those who want to run a marathon need to just go out and run.
“Everybody deserves a magical moment like this, and I hope that my journey, through failures and faceplants, from sea to shining sea, can inspire others to seize the day and persist towards their own audacious goals,” said Hoffman.