Interview by Faith Briggs
Photos from Bianca
“Oh you should talk to Bianca, she’s running Boston, and she’s riding there.” – Julie Krasniak
If you’re a runner this is the kind of statement that will make you stop in your tracks. Riding to the Boston Marathon?! The minute I heard about Bianca it was a no-brainer to reach out to learn more. I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear that not only is Bianca riding overnight down the East Coast from Maine to then run the Boston Marathon, but she’s also kayaking beforehand and eating pizza and beer along the way. Welcome to a very different way to chase the unicorn, featuring Bianca Pettinicchi, member of the EpicMan team.
NOTE: Because of weather, the teams were not allowed to kayak this year.
It’s now the 10th year of the EpicMan team, a team that began with the words “you won’t do it…” and has since raised thousands of dollars for charity through their racing exploits. So…what exactly does this journey consist of?
Bianca Pettinicchi: We’re starting from Peaks Island, so we wake up and go there at about 10 am, that part is pretty casual. Then the journey begins, we gather and kayak about 3 miles from the island to arrive in Portland, Maine.
Faith Briggs: And what’s that part like?
Bianca: Oh it’s so beautiful! In Maine, there are 4600 islands off the coast. We start off in this weird little place where everyone just walks to each other houses and there’s a general store. It’s quaint and pretty mellow, the coast of Maine is gorgeous and it’s such a great way to start with everyone all together.
Then we go to the Flatbread Company, a local pizza joint, and we drink beer, eat pizza and then start the ride down the coast to Portsmouth, NH. That’s our other stop, we spend some time there, party a little more, you know it’s a social 150 miles and then we take off for the overnight ride and pretty much just push all night to Hopkinton.
FB: And how long does this all take?
BP: This will take about 8 hours throughout the night and a support car will come along. This year there are 15 people, in the past, we’ve had anywhere from 10-25 people.
I’m flabbergasted throughout the conversation but also, I feel like this is someone after my own heart — always looking for the next epic adventure. Bianca has been involved with the Epic Man team for eight years and this is the fourth time she’s undertaking all three legs of the adventure. This year, she’s raising money for the Triumph Foundation, which helps paraplegic athletes get back into the sport and get active, triumphing over paralysis. Bianca’s good friend and cycling partner, Edie, was paralyzed after being hit by a car while on her bike and together they’ve been hand cycling and helping Edie stay active through the work of the Triumph Foundation. It’s a very personal journey this year.
We talk about the crazy weather over the years, how training for the first year Bianca was living in Switzerland and really fell in love with running and training and past experiences in Boston.
BP: The first time was during a freak weather pattern. There was a 90-degree heat wave. It was great for riding overnight in, but it was rough for running. I was hallucinating, not just because of the heat but because I hadn’t slept. The crowd in Boston is what makes it so adrenaline pumping and you just forget about the pain and everything and you’re just looking at faces the entire time. I don’t remember my first time feeling like I ran 26 miles, it was just like a nice tour of the city running and looking at all these faces screaming at me. And then I finished with major sunburn and I remember running through sprays of water to soak you as you were running. Everyone was soaking wet with heatstroke and sunburn and ambulances were lining the course too because people were passing out. I also ran the year of the bombings, it was so hectic and so heartbreaking. This is my first time going back since then.
Bianca first started cycling after becoming a commuter in Boston. She then moved into distance riding and after graduating from college biked from Boston to San Francisco. She loves biking for days on end.
FB: So what’s the appeal? Why do all this?
BP: Pain for me is not fun but I know it’s temporary and I push for experiences over discomfort. When you look back on things that were painful you don’t remember it as being so awful, you just remember the good parts and what it took to get to your destination, not necessarily the bad moments. There are a lot of bad moments when you’re training. But I have made so many friends and I have grown so much, something that I would not have done if I didn’t put myself into these physically challenging environments. When you find a group of people that you can share that with, and it’s usually hard to find, that’s pretty special.