This Physics Professor Ran 3,000 Miles Across America in Record Time: NPR

This Physics Professor Ran 3,000 Miles Across America in Record Time: NPR

Jenny Hoffman on her epic journey.

Jill Youmans


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Jill Youmans


Jenny Hoffman on her epic journey.

Jill Youmans

Mustering the energy needed for a light jog can sometimes be insurmountable. But for some, running is just a way of life. Take Jenny Hoffman, who just became the fastest woman to ever run across America.

Who is she? Hoffman is a physicist and professor at Harvard University, and is now also the world record holder for the fastest time run across the country by a woman.

What did you do? Hoffman ran 3,000 miles from San Francisco to New York City in 47 days, 12 hours and 35 minutes.

  • Hoffman breaks the previous record by more than a week! According to Guinness World Records, Sarah Velence completed the journey in 2017 in a time of 55 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes.
  • Hoffman had attempted the journey once before in 2019 but had to stop due to injury.


what is she saying? All things considered Host Elsa Chang spoke with Hoffman about her accomplishment. Here’s what she said.

As for why she felt compelled to do this:

It’s hard to explain, I don’t know. It’s something I’ve dreamed of, crossing this country under my own power, since I was a child. Once it got into my head, I couldn’t let it go. Every day, every moment that I wasn’t doing anything else, it was there in the background as something I knew I wanted to do. I’d be driving, see the open road ahead of me, and say, “I can handle this.” It just kind of permeates everything.

Oh the places you’ll go.

Jill Youmans


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Jill Youmans

What I learned about the country:

I learned how friendly Americans are. We had a wonderful woman in Nebraska who gave us dozens of fresh eggs from her chickens. And we had a cement company in Utah that gave me a reflective vest to keep me safe all the way across the country. Just a lot of generous Americans. And, you know, the red states, the blue states, whatever their yard signs were, they were very generous and kind.

On the thoughts she kept coming back to while she was running:

When I first did this in 2019, I was spending a lot of time processing my father’s death, and it was a really important time to grieve. And this time in 2023, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I’m grateful for and a lot about how I can use this journey to learn how to be a better person and also to provide inspiration for others to achieve their own bold goals. No matter what they may be. And I’ve tried hard to do a better job of documenting my journey publicly in the hopes that someone, somewhere will see it and think, “Maybe I can tackle this big goal I’ve been afraid to achieve.”

Learn more:

Interview by Jenny Hoffman was conducted by Elsa Chang, produced by Karen Zamora and edited by Tenbet Jeremias.

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