TSP Solo 2024: Tamra Green

Prior to 2023, Tamra Green hadn’t run or hiked more than ten miles, so how on earth did she manage 340 miles solo across the US just one year later, becoming the first Black American woman to complete The Speed Project Solo Mission?

By Tracey Mammolito

Photograph By Tracey Mammolito

Over the last ten years, The Speed Project (TSP) has become one of the most sought after unsanctioned running events in the world. Maybe it’s their “F*ck the System” mentality. Perhaps it’s their #NoRules mantra. There’s not even a website or registration button. The founders don’t even consider themselves race directors, merely initiators. Similar to being on a nightclub’s VIP list, entry is primarily by invite or referral, as they’re very purposeful with who is let in the door. This adventure may seem exclusive, but on the contrary its vibe is one of the most inclusive.

Tamra gearing up for the epic journey

The party-like atmosphere has attracted a global following and continues to evolve by uniquely blending both the urban road running culture, with the traditional trail ultra running culture. The coalition of the two, along with having them run from the desert to finishing amongst the Sin City casino crowd, is all part of the dichotomy. There’s no doubt this has made TSP one of the most diverse ultra distance races around. “It’s been great to see how this has grown solely by word of mouth, with runners mainly coming from the big cities. There are no spectators, no cheering zones, but there is this remarkable tension and harmony between competition, collaboration, creativity, and community. Everyone can essentially craft their own route. We’re all a participant, from the runners to the support crew to the wave of creatives who now document it. It’s an overall practice in human connection,” says founder Nils Arend.

Since its inception, the 340-mile challenge from Los Angeles to Las Vegas has always been a team relay event. The 2020 pandemic brought on virtual DIY versions that eventually led to adding a solo category in 2022, which only a small handful of people have participated in until now.

Growing up in Detroit, Tamra Green mostly played team sports like basketball and soccer, but there was always an underlying influence of long distance running from her father; a marathoner during the 1970s & 80s. “Knowing what he had accomplished in those days, fearing that perception of a Black man running must mean he’s running from something or he’s done something wrong because someone is always chasing us,” she says. Feeling that connection to her dad, she reminisces about following him around the neighbourhood, hearing people shout out his name, and seeing him become a local hero. It was something very special that has stuck with her since childhood.

“It felt like I was sleepwalking. But I was still standing and moving"

After moving to NYC in 2015, Tam initially relied on her strong yoga practice while focusing on finding her career, activities, and network of friends. In 2021 the running bug began to surface as she joined some local meetup groups for their community feel and social justice efforts. Two years later, Tam found herself signing up for races, and by July completed her first marathon in San Diego before taking on the NYC Marathon in November. She says, “San Diego definitely had a deeper meaning. Not only was it my first marathon, but it was in a place my grandmother had lived for many years. Regrettably, I never got to visit her or attend her funeral back in 2010 due to school. So when I experienced the beautiful landscape she used to describe, I felt her presence, and was even able to visit her gravesite during that trip. My grandmother is one of the many strong women I carry inside of me, especially while running. I learned at a young age to not hold onto grudges because she would constantly remind me, ‘It’s all that poison you’re holding onto. Gotta let it go.’ It taught me how to handle toxicity from others and from myself.”

Self doubt is a constant struggle for many of us and one of the most hindering factors in accomplishing goals, especially in sports. That doubt can develop from something deep inside or build up from how others treat us. Conquering the source of that doubt is a very powerful aspect to propelling forward. During her 2023 entry period into training and racing, Tam not only discovered her physicality, but also her bravery when facing one of those sources as a victim of domestic violence. After a very destructive and verbally abusive 7 years, things started to escalate and she knew she had to get out of the relationship. She says, “Sadly, I had witnessed it in my own family. I saw the signs. So with each moment and every piece I was planning, I had to be very calculated and careful. I waited several months before filing a report and obtaining an Order of Protection. There was such fear of retaliation, but there was also such forced growth in choosing to not allow this person to control me anymore. All those years I was swallowing and burying everything inside – all the things that were not digestible.” In the same month Tam ran her first marathon, she removed herself from that toxic home. She adds, “After making the plan, there was no time to overthink or process it – only time to make my exit happen. And running was there. It helped me digest.”

Writer and photographer Tracey Mammolito joined Tamra and her team to document her TSP journey



While the community of friends she had built through running and yoga provided tons of support during this time, Tam was also unpacking the weight of it all to a social worker, and to her mom and sisters who had been through similar situations, drawing them closer as a family. Simultaneously, she was pouring her feelings into words through the therapeutic outlet of writing poetry. On this trajectory of rebuilding self confidence and finding her full potential, Tam decided to catapult from marathon to mega-ultra distance. “I had this really vivid dream where I ran all the way from NYC to Detroit. I thought; What does this mean? Am I supposed to pay attention to something specific or challenge myself in some abundant way? I didn’t know what to do with all that… and then Malcolm Ebanks, three-time TSP solo finisher, saw my potential and thought I could do it. I remembered that dream and feeling I was supposed to be stepping into something bigger than myself. So I said yes to what that dream was telling me and I also said yes to the fact that I’m capable,” she recalls. In the autumn of 2023, Tam accepted the invite to take on the 300+ mile endeavour of The Speed Project. Shortly thereafter she received one of the LALV Grants from performance brand Ciele Athletics to help offset financial costs associated with the event.

Tamra dealt with some of the most drastic weather conditions in TSP history

Heading into the training block for TSP, Tam took all the necessary steps; running at varying times a day, commuting to and from work by foot, eating and hydrating more, lifting weights with a fitness coach, and joining others on their super long runs around the five boroughs. In February she had the opportunity to tackle Mexico’s Sal A Valle 120K race as a test before TSP. It was there she realised how much she had developed. “As we went higher in elevation and the landscape kept opening up, I felt myself opening up to receiving this experience and this ability,” she says. More than just the physical work that was still to be done, was the mental work in order to advance from succeeding a one day to a multi day challenge. “Long distance running can be a real mind bender. Am I gonna bend with it, against it, or actually bend forward? I have to remind myself how far I’ve come, my resilience in the face of trauma, and the connection I’m making to my own body. I’m being gentle to myself alongside fighting all the rigidness that comes with running and that comes with life, work, and relationships. All of life’s experiences are what you carry on and off the road,” she says.

Tam’s work at a cancer treatment centre hands her many of life’s lessons on a daily basis. Whenever she is out there building mileage, focusing on the time spent in her shoes, touching the ground, connecting with the soil and with her thoughts, she is also thinking about her patients’ concept of time. She states, “In many cases, this might be the end of their time on earth, and being in this hospital is how they’re spending that time. It’s difficult. The commonality is that they simply want more time.”


The 340-mile challenge had always been a team relay event. The pandemic brought on virtual DIY versions that eventually led to adding a solo category in 2022

Tam recognizes that not everyone is built to handle seeing such constant sadness or desperation at their job. However, she has experienced moments of joy in being a part of someone’s support system. It has taught her a lot about patience, alertness, and time sensitivity, along with the importance of how everyone plays a part of a team, organization, and of course communication. Those fundamentals came in handy when selecting her support crew for TSP. Everyone brings a unique quality and skillset to the table, creating stability. Each of their strengths ensured she was fed, massaged, woken up, navigated, paced, and equipped with ample snacks and supplies on each segment.

Amidst all the preparing, planning, and packing there’s a juxtaposition which exists against the unpredicted chaos that can occur during The Speed Project. Not only the mix of terrain, the odd hours of night, or the potential for wild animals, but this year’s event dealt with some of the most drastic weather conditions in its history; from heat and scorching sun to extreme winds to pouring rain and even snow in some areas. In her own body, Tam was dealing with knee pain, digestive and dehydration issues, and the added stress as a woman that the peak of her menstrual cycle was coming along for the ride. On her team, one had to fly back home immediately after the start due to an emergency, and this photographer even got food poisoning on top of her unexpected period! The female sync up phenomenon is real.

Amidst all the preparing, planning, and packing there’s a juxtaposition which exists against the unpredicted chaos that can occur during The Speed Project

After a strong yet long first day out of LA, the severe knee pain forced a much lower mileage on day two, a setback the team had to continually monitor against the race clock. So on day three her captain advised a walking-only day to lessen the impact yet to still gain enough distance. This was a turning point for Tam because she thought if she could get over the midway point, she could push through the remaining three days in some walk/run combination. Conversations got real and decisions had to be made. This meant no more stopping and checking into a hotel for the night. Instead, it was a full on effort to keep moving, grabbing just small naps in between.

For runners who partake up to the marathon distance, the race day approach fixates on gels, salt pills, and sips of water. The transition into ultra running morphs some of that method to incorporate eating more whole foods, moving at slower paces, usually at different times than one is used to, and evidently adjusting to the lack of sleep. The most challenging factor Tam hadn’t predicted was the actual effects of sleep deprivation.

She recalls on day four, “It felt like I was sleepwalking. But I was still standing and moving. To tap into that sensation thinking you’re in a space where your unconscious is speaking to you right now. I didn’t expect to have that sort of communication. My body was awake but my mind was in a different chamber. I almost said we have to stop but we were in the middle of nowhere at night so we had to keep going. Coming off of the Powerline Trail on day five, it happened again. I saw shapes, faces, and other body parts in the outlines of the mountains. It was like they were communicating with me. I was seeing characters. The mountains were showing me their character. Then I realised what was happening. I was hallucinating. It was the most unchained feeling in my whole athletic journey.” On day six, Saturday, March 30 at around 7:30pm PT, after 1:35:30 hours and over 300 miles on foot, Tam arrived at the Las Vegas welcome sign and completed the TSP Solo Mission, making her the first Black woman to ever do so.

“You don’t find TSP, it finds you!”


Since achieving this goal, she has been in a state of euphoria, feeling the tranquility and peace of the moment. As Tam continues to move through this sphere, she’s trying to savour it and not rush onto the next thing. In her sights though, is the Berlin Marathon as well as the Detroit Half Marathon so her dad can watch in person this time. She also intends on getting a yoga teaching certification. She further appreciates the analogy Nils Arend made to yoga, “It’s all this build up of intensity while pushing your limits up until the pool party which I call The Savasana, or The Letting Go.” Tam has worked on letting go of so much. She explains, “Shedding this layer of skin that needed to go is a real exhale moment. That savasana. I used to hold my breath in so many moments, so many times over. I’m learning new ways to breathe in deeper spaces and how to let go in a different capacity. It’s digging out of internal and external doubts.

I’m being open to all the feelings and all the processing. I’m rediscovering my relationship with myself. But I was showing up for myself every morning at 4am during training. In the beginning there were times I thought; Am I safe from my ex? Is it safe to run as a woman down the desolate streets of Brooklyn at this hour? Is it safe to run through the dark desert with just a headlamp? Will there be wild animals? Is it safe to run through predominantly white neighbourhoods? But after going through what I went through and standing up for myself, I knew I could do it and I knew my crew was there to protect me during TSP. I’m forever grateful to them. Even in the domestic situation I knew my strength and my preparedness. Toni Morrison wrote about surviving in parts. Show yourself grace to realise the parts do become whole in the end. That stuck with me throughout the entire event. The universe doesn’t negotiate with gifts. It’s been a healing gift to be so raw and exposed. I feel my most authentic self when I’m allowing myself to be that vulnerable.”

The team bus. Everyone on Tamra's team brings a unique quality and skillset to the table, creating stability

She adds, “After finishing TSP, my dad proudly said, ‘You are wiser than the trees give you credit for so grow deep…. grow deep.’ And grow deep I did. My entire self has cracked wide open physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m ascending and understanding the duality of who I am. To feel balanced and whole. The doubt was creeping in yet the capability always lived inside of me. I’ve seen what I’ve pushed my body to do. I’m now sitting with that confirmation. There’s an equilibrium existing inside of me – a renewal and freedom. Freedom is the feeling of no fear. While daydreaming yesterday, the word alchemy came to mind. Alchemy means freeing yourself from your fears, limiting belief systems which show a lack of self-acceptance. It’s the art of transformation and inner liberation. I represent other women, especially Black women, a learned alchemy in all our trials and tribulations. I’m bearing witness to this self discovery unfolding, and how this running thing found me.” And just as the saying goes, “You don’t find TSP, it finds you,” it’s clear that running found Tam when she needed it most.

On day six, Saturday, March 30 at around 7:30pm PT, after 1:35:30 hours and over 300 miles on foot, Tam arrived at the Las Vegas welcome sign!

Follow Tamra here.

Imagery and words by Tracey Mammolito. Follow Tracey here, and check out her work here.

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