After 3,762 miles and 65 days of continuous swimming, biking and running, extreme athlete and sexual assault survivor Norma Bastidas will complete a world-record-breaking ultra-triathlon, arriving at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (between 8th and 12th St.) on May 4, 2014, in the middle of thousands of people gathered for the National Cinco de Mayo Festival. Bastidas started the ultra-triathlon in Cancun, Mexico on March 1, where, due to a GPS problem, she actually swam 122 ocean miles, instead of the 95 counted for the record. After completing the swim on March 20, she biked 2,932 miles to LaGrange, Georgia in 27 days.
On April 16, she switched into running gear and began running the 735 miles to Washington, D.C. Bastidas is accompanied along the route by a documentary team from iEmpathize, a non-profit organization combating crimes against children. The resulting binational, bilingual, feature-length film iEmpathize will release in either late 2014 or early 2015, titled Be Relentless, will feature not only her story, which includes almost being a human trafficking victim herself, but the stories of human trafficking victims and their advocates in both the United States and Mexico. Bastidas’ goal is to empower survivors of human trafficking and sexual violence everywhere. Money raised from the film will benefit prevention projects through development of materials, programs and curriculums for education projects, and empower survivors through scholarship funds. Each leg of the triathlon presented specific challenges for Bastidas. During the swim, the salt water, several storms, choppy seas and the gasoline and fumes from nearby wave runners caused her to endure pain, mouth sores, nausea and vomiting. While biking, Bastidas and the team suffered two car accidents, one in Mexico and one in the United States, both with the potential for serious injury. The first accident occurred on a highway in Mexico as the support van, traveling at 15 miles per hour, was rear-ended by a large cargo truck traveling at over 70 miles per hour. Realizing they were about to be hit, the driver of the support van turned the wheel so the van exited the road, instead of hitting Bastidas and another team member, who were cycling up ahead. The van was totaled as it smashed through concrete fence posts. Several team members went to the hospital but were released a few hours later with only minor injuries. Swollen feet plagued Bastidas throughout the third leg of the event. She ran 40 miles a day until the final 80 miles, which she will complete with no stopping or sleeping. Bastidas lost 20 pounds during the triathlon.
At 9:30 a.m. on May 5, Eduardo Medina-Mora, the Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, will receive Bastidas at the Mexican Embassy, where the United States Ambassador-At-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Luis CdeBaca, will also be present. At noon that day, the D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs will be hosting a press conference for Bastidas and the team at 2000 14th Street, NW 2nd Floor, Washington D.C. In addition to Bastidas and Brad Riley, president and founder of iEmpathize, speakers at the press conference include Natalia Otero, executive director of DC SAFE and Jaime Farrant, executive director of Ayuda. Riley commented, “While the triathlon has ended, the Be Relentless movement, designed to unite people in two nations like never before in the fight against human trafficking, is just beginning. iEmpathize and Norma will partner together in this movement.” For more information, contact: Mary Wade, firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 404-0602.