Jessica Goldman set off Wednesday from San Francisco City Hall on a cross-country run to New York City, in the hopes of breaking a world record and raising money for treating traumatic brain injuries.
The endurance athlete is aiming to arrive on the steps of New York City Hall on June 18, in a record 63 days.
The women's record for a cross-country run is now officially held by Mavis Hutchinson, who secured the Guinness World Record with her 69-day run in 1978, though Lorna Michael of Florida holds the unofficial record with her 64-day run in 64 days.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee hailed Goldman at a brief sendoff ceremony Wednesday as an "exceptional athlete" who "has a world-class heart" because she is running to raise money for the Brain Injury Association of America.
He also asked her to give his regards to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio when she arrives.
Traumatic brain injuries affect 2.5 million Americans every year, according to Brain Injury Association of California executive director Paula Daoutis, who also attended this morning's sendoff.
"It changes the way you think, the way you act, the way you feel," Daoutis said.
She said such injuries can leave victims unable to distinguish a toothbrush from a hairbrush, or to grasp which goes on first, shoes or socks.
Goldman pointed out before she embarked on her run that while brain injuries most visibly affect NFL players, they are also a major problem for many veterans returning from war.
"What is going to keep me motivated on a daily basis is people going on my donor page and making donations," she said Wednesday.
A native of New Hampshire, Goldman said she grew up in a town with only one traffic light. Standing alongside Lee on the steps of City Hall, she said "all this attention is kind of amazing."
As Goldman took off, she was accompanied by the cross-country running team from Mercy High School in Burlingame, which planned to run alongside her for the first two miles.
Goldman plans to camp out along her route, which will start with her running down the Peninsula and then over the pedestrian path on the Dumbarton Bridge. She is carrying all of her supplies in a modified jogging stroller she calls "Thingamabob."
Her progress is being tracked on her website.