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Ultra Marathon Swim: 2100 miles across the Atlantic

Posted Nov 06 2008 7:06am 1 Comment

Jennifer Figge
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.

Her 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 banking business.

Jennifer Figge2 According to the the Sun Herald:

"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."

Her first 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 her course.

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.

In 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."

And According to the Quad-City Times:

"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.

“I’ve been 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.”

On 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 Moorea."

Comments (1)
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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. will be following her.  Jennifer also has a Facebook page where you can follow her.  We wish her good luck.
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