Login required to started new threads
Login required to post replies
Wonderful to see such a hardcore and talented ultra runner receiving coverage in the mainstream media.
As much as I love seeing extraordinary women whip the guys in long races or posting FKTs (and it clearly does happen on occasions), it's still lazy journalism to perpetuate the fallacy of elite women being better suited than their male counterparts to ultras.
First up, Courtney Dauwalter is an exceptional athlete. Courtney's 256 km/159 mile performance at Taipai 24 Hour last year was only a couple of miles adrift of Patrycja Bereznowska's 259 km world record set at the World Champs in Belfast in 2017.
Women's running world records are approximately 10% behind those of men, regardless of the distance, from 100 metres to 6 days. The only significant outlier is Tomoe Abe's 100km world record of 6:33 which is about 5% behind the men.
So why do women occasionally win ultras outright?
- Any athlete, female or male, with a PR of over 250 km for the 24 Hour will have won other ultras throughout their career, purely because even for male runners, that still indicates you're a pretty decent runner.
- Ultra fields are sometimes lack relative depth among elite runners, giving opportunity to elite women to earn an outright win.
- Long ultras (over 100 miles) are difficult races to execute perfectly even with loads of experience and ideal training. Their duration, difficulty and adverse weather conditions are more likely to result major time losses, relegating some elite men behind an elite woman executing a near ideal race. This is not a factor in short distances. For example, several men capable of a 26 minute 10km aren't going to lose 3 minutes and finish behind the first woman no matter how badly the race plays out. If things go pear-shaped at 60 miles in a long ultra, a runner will lose many hours and with no option of just cruising to the finish line.
So how do Courtney's performances compare to the top men in her most competitive races?
- 2018 Ultra Trail Mount Fuji, 105 miles (1077 finishers): 1st woman in 23:57 (16th place overall, 1st male 19:21)
- 2018 Western States 100 Mile (299 finishers): 1st woman in 17:27 (12th place overall, 1st male 14:30)
- Courtney's 24 Hour PR: 256 km/159 miles, compared to Yiannis Kouros' WR: 303 km/188 miles.
We should celebrate female athletes such as Courtney and their performances for who they are and what they have achieved; truly remarkable athletes delivering world class performances, deserving of recognition in their own right.
It's not about the women "catching up" to the men. It's not happening and it's irrelevant.