Polly Letofsky - 1st American Woman Walks Around World

Polly Letofsky - 3mph: The Adventures of One Woman's Walk Around the World
Polly Letofsky - 3mph: The Adventures of One Woman's Walk Around the World. Courtesy of Amazon

Five years, almost 14,000 miles, walking each day for 1825 consecutive days, wearing out over 50 pairs of shoes. Global Walker Polly Letofsky returned home to Vail, Colorado on July 30, 2004 as the first American woman to walk around the world.

The goal of her journey was to raise awareness about breast cancer. She raised approximately $200,000 for breast cancer for 13 breast cancer organizations around the world.

The money raised in each country was donated to the local organization in that country.

Walking with BOB

The 42-year-old Letofsky was accompanied around the world by BOB. The Global Walker, a custom-altered running stroller, is named BOB, after the California-based company that manufactures BOB Sport Utility Strollers and bicycle trailers. Letofsky's BOB has served as a rolling backpack, carrying all of her possessions, including water, snacks, clothes, overnight supplies and her laptop. BOB is adorned with patches from 22 countries and pins from each U.S. state, and proudly displays signatures from thousands of women and men with breast cancer.

"BOB was an enormous hit all over the world," emailed Letofsky from the road. "And he's really taken a beating - it's amazing how he's hung in there."

How Polly Letofsky Walked

Polly Letofsky walked a continuous walk, between 15 and 20 miles per day.

She contacted breast cancer organizations and Lions Clubs in the countries she walked through. At times they arranged for overnight stays at homes or hotels. She always resumed walking from the spot she ended at the previous day.

People were welcome to walk with her, and she estimates that 1900 breast cancer survivors walked with her during her journey, and she met five men with breast cancer.

She has tips on safety for women walking alone around the world. She called the police three times over the course of all of the miles of walking to report unwanted attention from men.

Adventures on the Global Walk

When Letofsky started GlobalWalk, her route took her west from Colorado where she tackled the Rockies. From there she walked through the deserts to California, where she experienced a 7.2 earthquake. She flew from California to New Zealand, traveled through Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Letofsky was in Malaysia on September 11, 2001, and recalls the date vividly.

"I wasn't around when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and I was too young to remember where I was the day JFK was shot. But I'll never forget where I was the day America lost its innocence. I was on an oil palm plantation in Malaysia grieving with Muslims."

After Malaysia, Letofsky traveled through Thailand, India, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. Then it was on to Germany, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Scotland and Ireland.

From there she headed back to America, flying into New York, walking through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and north to Canada. Next came the upper Midwest states, and finally, Colorado.

Memoirs of the Global Walk

Letofsky wrote an award-winning book about her experiences, 3mph: The Adventures of One Woman's Walk Around the World, published in 2011. It won 2011 Writer's Digest Best Memoir, Best Travel Memoir at the 2011 IPPY Book Awards, and 2011 Best Memoir at CIPA Book Awards.

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