Norma Bastidas is afraid of neither great distances nor tremendous heights. She’s climbed the world’s seven tallest peaks and run something called the Canadian Death Race, and now, she’s taking extreme to the next level.
Back in March, CNN reports, the 47-year-old finished the 95-mile swimming leg of what she hopes will be the world’s longest triathlon. A few weeks ago, she parked her bike after covering 2,932 miles, and now she’s running 735 miles. She hopes to complete the total distance of 3,762 miles by the end of April.
If she finishes, she’ll more than double the total amassed by current world-record holder David Holleran, who swam 26.2 miles, biked 1,242, and ran 310 (1,578.2 total) back in 1998.
Bastidas’ long and circuitous route from Mexico the U.S. capital covers major corridors of human trafficking, the issue driving her superhuman undertaking.
Bastidas was sexually abused as a young child and again later in life, and at 17, she was kidnapped in Mexico City. She escaped before she could be sold into sexual slavery, but according to iEmphatize, an organization she’s working with on a film documenting her triathlon, thousands of children every day aren’t so lucky.
"We all know it's wrong," Bastidas told CNN. "It's still happening. And it's preventable."
Bastidas began running in 2006, after her oldest son, Karl, was diagnosed with cone rod dystrophy, an incurable eye disease. Her early ultra races were in support of curing that condition, but now she’s turned her attention to the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people who are trafficked across international borders each year.
Given that she only learned to swim last year, and that the biking portion of her triathlon involved pedaling some 130 miles per day, the title of her in-the-works documentary is fitting: Be Relentless.
"This is the best way I can illustrate that nothing is impossible," Bastidas said.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg