Pippa Middleton, no stranger to intense charity marathons, is at the start of a grueling 3,000 mile charity bike race across America. The 30-year-old sister to the future Queen of England is joining her brother James on the Race Across America (RAAM) challenge , which will take them from the west to the east coast of the U.S. in eight to twelve days. In an effort raise awareness on women's heart disease, health, and education Pippa will be riding in support of the Michael Matthews Foundation and the British Heart Foundation

"I was shocked to learn that nearly three times more women die from coronary heart disease than breast cancer," she said in a statement released by the BHF. "I'm passionate about raising awareness amongst women of this killer disease and I look forward to working with the BHF to highlight to women the risks of heart disease and importantly, how they can reduce them."

As you can imagine, this is no ordinary bike race for charity. Since its creation in 1983, less than 200 people have actually finished the cross-country route. As one conmpetitor told the NY Times, “More people summit Everest than complete RAAM.” And because the race is judged by whomever crosses the finish line in the fastest time, sleep is something that's often shunned unless absolutely necessary. 

“With the Tour de France, you stop at the end of the day — you rest, you get a massage, eat a meal, sleep and then start fresh the next day,” former women’s winner, Leah Goldstein said. “But with RAAM, you don’t. You’re sleep deprived and disoriented.” As an example, the 2011 men's winner -  Christoph Strasser - crossed the finish line on just seven and a half hours of sleep spread out across eight days. 

For Pippa and her British teammates, the goal will be to make the crossing in less than twelve days, with "two groups of four to ride in a relay for five to six hours at a stretch, taking turns to rest and eat," the Daily Mail reports

Those looking to support Pippa on her journey can hit her official fundraising page here. If biking isn't your thing, you can also help her raise money for her next competition - a 6.5km swim in the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Race on July 18th. 

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Pippa Middleton kicks off 3,000 mile bike race across U.S.
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