Her name is Jennifer Figge and she's a 56-years-old mother, runner, and swimmer.
In just under a month on Dec. 1st she plan to dive into the Atlantic ocean and swim her way Across 2100 miles from the Cape Verde Islands off the African coast to Barbados. It will take about two months, swimming about eight hours a day in Atlantic waters that should be freezing cold.
But don't count her out so quickly. She has been pulling off tests of endurance for at least 20 years …
like running 500 miles across South America or 450 miles across India.
first run that we remember was a run across Iowa. That was 300 miles, a
breeze for Jennifer, who spent most of her life in Davenport but now
claims Aspen, Colo., as home base with husband, Tom, retired from the
"Jennifer Figge has been doing multistage endurance events since her
only son was in elementary school in Davenport, Iowa, so he was "not
shocked at all" when she told him of her latest intention. "I know it
sounds weird, but everyone in our family expects stuff like this from
my mom," said Alex, 27, who races in the LeMans series. "I'd be
surprised if she wasn't doing something extreme."
challenge was a 300-mile, 12-day run across Iowa in 1989. Alex's
third-grade teacher put up a map in the classroom that read: "Where is
Mrs. Figge today?" The children moved pushpins across the map to chart
It would take many, many pushpins to chronicle
Figge's adventures since. She has run 400 miles across France, 350
miles across Romania, 450 miles across India, 576 miles across South
America, 300 miles across Thailand (north to south), 300 miles across
Iceland, and 180 miles across Mexico (the final 60 miles in a leg
cast). She swam across the Straits of Gibraltar, from Tahiti to Moorea,
from Turkey to Greece, across the Cozumel Channel, and through the
heads of Sydney Harbor. Last year, she battled eight-foot-swells as she
swam 52 miles from Cay Sal Bank in the Bahamas to Marathon in the Keys.
all, she has traversed more than 3,300 miles on land, and done roughly
25 channel crossings by sea. But nothing she has done compares with her
latest endeavor, a stunt that, as far as anyone knows, has been
conquered by only two people, and never by a woman."
"Jennifer is now in Florida, and we visited by phone Monday. She sounds
excited about her marathon swim. Two others, both men, claim to have
made the trip in past years. Authenticity of both swims has been
questioned She will be the first woman to try.
training in the Gulf Stream,” she says. Her Atlantic crossing will be
from the Cape Verde Islands, off the African coast, to Barbados.
Studying the map, it looks like an unattainable journey. But then
again, Jennifer has done the impossible before.
Early in her
running days, she ran from Davenport to Chicago, through some of the
most dangerous sections of the city. A chase car, along with a guard,
followed along. After that Chicago warmup run, she hoofed across
France and Romania.
Jennifer says, “I got the spirit of
adventure from my mother, Margherita Roberti, the opera singer. I think
my hard, tough ethic is from my late German dad, Tom Nobis.”
a rainy November day in 1992, she celebrated her 40th birthday by
running 40 miles. She ran, ran, ran, splashing puddles, running
four-mile stretches of the Davenport bike path 10 times. She invited
friends to join; a few did, for a few miles.
After so much
running for years, Jennifer’s feet and legs gave out, so she turned to
swimming, working the waves in watery treks, such as one from Tahiti to
I believe Jennifer's swim has been postponed until mid-January as she faced unexpected delays in shipping her escort boat from Florida to Cape Verde where she will start her 2,100-mile adventure.
www.10Kswimmer.com will be following her. Jennifer also has a Facebook page where you can follow her. We wish her good luck.