CAMDENTON, Mo. — Maria Parker overcame a new obstacle — asthma-related respiratory issues — to reach the head of the female pack in the Race Across America on Tuesday.
Parker was 34 miles ahead of the nearest woman racer late Tuesday night, despite having some breathing problems, crew member Rob Redfearn said. She also was ahead of some men.
Her effort to raise $1 million for cancer research also moved in the right direction with a $3,000 donation.
Redfearn said Parker posted the fastest times in two-thirds of her time stations, and beat the fastest male competitor by 2 mph, making her what Redfearn called the “Queen of the Prairies.”
Parker arrived in Camdenton, about 177 miles southwest of St. Louis, about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. She has pedaled 1,821 miles and has 1,172 to go to the finish line in Annapolis, Md., according to Redfearn.
Parker’s asthma flare-up was the latest hurdle the recumbent racer has climbed. On Friday, a car driving 65 mph crashed into the back of Parker’s crew member’s van about 70 miles outside Flagstaff, Ariz., causing some minor injuries and destroying two of Parker’s three bikes, spare parts and other supplies.
Parker and her crew initially thought she had been disqualified from the race because the accident made her late to a timed checkpoint. However, race officials forgave the late arrival given the circumstances.
Parker, who was off the road for a full day, caught up to her competitors over the weekend, closing to within 100 miles of the leader by Monday.
Redfearn said the crew bought new wheels Tuesday to replace the ones lost in the accident. Bike shops around the country have offered to loan equipment to Parker so she can finish the race, Redfearn said.
Parker is competing in RAAM to raise money for brain cancer research through her charity, 3,000 Miles to a Cure. Her sister, Jenny Mulligan, was diagnosed with brain cancer last October. Redfearn said the $3,000 gift came from an unnamed individual on Tuesday, a single dollar for all the miles she will travel.
For more information or to donate, visit www.3000milestoacure.com or its Facebook page. A $10 donation can be made by texting ‘race’ to 20222.