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From the New York Times:

The Woman Who Outruns the Men, 200 Miles at a Time

Courtney Dauwalter specializes in extremely long races. But her success in winning them has opened a debate about how men’s innate strength advantages apply to endurance sports.

By Rebecca Byerly, Dec. 5, 2018

Women often do better than men at extreme ocean swimming, such as Lynne Cox being the first to swim the 53-mile-wide Bering Strait:

If you had a “race” where the winner was simply the last person to die, i.e., a tontine, most of the winners would be women.

On the other hand, in the Olympic running distances from 100 meters to 26 miles, the gender gap is pretty consistently around 11% at all lengths. Perhaps this changes at these lunatic ultramarathon lengths? But militaries don’t see much evidence that women can outmarch men, so this is rather puzzling.

 
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  1. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    Women often do better than men at extreme ocean swimming, such as Lynne Cox being the first to swim the 53-mile-wide Bering Strait

    More fatty tissues keep her afloat better?

  2. Hey, Grandpa Simpson and Mr Burns were in a tontine in ‘Curse of the Flying Hellfish’.

  3. A 190 lbs Marine can easily outmarch over 26 miles the Ethiopian marathon champions, if they all had to carry 100 lbs packs. Same applies to female soldiers.

  4. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Anon

    Probably help them maintain body heat as well.

  5. Sean says:

    The 61 year old man who won a 500 mile race

    Probably women are not superior, but the advantage for men declines to quite a small one once you as far away from power sports as 200 miles. Men’s bones are much denser.

    Art DeVany’s top 10 reasons not to run marathons sans elaboration on each reason:

    https://blog.kir.com/?p=5597

    10. Marathon running damages the liver and gall bladder and alters biochemical markers adversely. HDL is lowered, LDL is increased, Red blood cell counts and white blood cell counts fall. The liver is damaged and gall bladder function is decreased. Testosterone decreases.

    9. Marathon running causes acute and severe muscle damage. Repetitive injury causes infiltration of collagen (connective tissue) into muscle fibers.

    8. Marathon running induces kidney disfunction (renal abnormalities).

    7. Marathon running causes acute microthrombosis in the vascular system.

    6. Marathon running elevates markers of cancer. S100beta is one of these markers. Tumor necrosis factor, TNF-alpha, is another.

    5. Marathon running damages your brain. The damage resembles acute brain trauma. Marathon runners have elevated S100beta, a marker of brain damage and blood brain barrier dysfunction. There is S100beta again, a marker of cancer and of brain damage.

    4. Marathons damage your heart. From Whyte, et al Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2001 May, 33 (5) 850-1, “Echocardiographic studies report cardiac dysfunction following ultra-endurance exercise in trained individuals. Ironman and half-Ironman competition resulted in reversible abnormalities in resting left ventricular diastolic and systolic function. Results suggest that myocardial damage may be, in part, responsible for cardiac dysfunction, although the mechanisms responsible for this cardiac damage remain to be fully elucidated.”

    3. Endurance athletes have more spine degeneration.

    The number two reason not to run marathons:

    2. At least four particiants of the Boston Marathon have died of brain cancer in the past 10 years. Purely anecdotal, but consistent with the elevated S100beta counts and TKN-alpha measures. Perhaps also connected to the microthrombi of the endothelium found in marathoners.

    And now ladies and gentlemen the number one reason not to run marathons:

    1. The first marathon runner, Phidippides, collapsed and died at the finish of his race. [Jaworski, Curr Sports Med Rep. 1005 June; 4 (3), 137-43.]

    • Agree: Hunsdon
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  6. Checkmate, sexists!

    Wait, is she a M2F tranny?

    Checkmate, transphobes!

    Wait, she also hallucinated a black male standing on the path?

    Checkmate, Becky!

    Wait, does she have better hair than the author of the article, ReBECCA Byerly???

    Checkmate, bitch!

    Wait, are they the same person?

    Checkmate, physiognomy!!!

    • Replies: @Clyde
  7. @Dave Pinsen

    Probably help them maintain body heat as well.

    That might help. I know several people who have competed in Hong Kong’s ‘Trailwalker’ charity run/hike, which is about 60 miles. More than one has mentioned that keeping warm is harder than they thought, even though it’s never very cold here when that race is run.

    But I wonder if endurance of pain is the main issue. I remember reading Michael Sokolove’s Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports some years ago. One of the most compelling points he makes is that lots of female athletes get injured because they push themselves relentlessly, i.e. to a point at which their bodies are very vulnerable to breaking down. It seems girls are much more likely to do this than boys.

    Speaking of tontines + sports, a ‘last survivor’ race setup, which is indeed how some of the events Courtney Dauwaulter competes in are organized, is very similar to the premise of Stephen King’s horror novella The Long Walk.

    I find the notion of running 200+ miles borderline insane, whether it’s men or women doing it.

  8. @Sean

    Professional track stars can run a 10k (6 mile) race at near world record pace once a week for a couple of months straight during the height of the track meet season. In contrast, professional track stars need a few months off between marathons (26 miles).

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
    , @Pat Boyle
  9. That Guy says:

    Stephen King had a story about this called ‘The Long Walk’ about a walking competition where the last survivor wins. All of the contestants are teenage boys though.

    • Replies: @Kyle
  10. The Times article seems to rely on a sample of one.

  11. Women won five out of six Iditarods from 1985-90. But none since. The Seavey family has won seven, with six consecutive this decade.

    Of course, how much credit goes to the musher, and how much to the mushed?

    • Replies: @CAL2
    , @anon
  12. A fan says:

    I used to follow ultrarunning very closely. While Dauwalter has undeniable talent, her success relative to the men’s field in 200 mile races is entirely due to the minuscule sample size. They used to make this same argument about 100 mile races (which is still a very niche sport), but when more men and women started participating, the usual 10% gender disparity appeared. When more men and women start running 200 mile races, it will appear there as well. Note too that no woman has come close to completing the Barkley Marathons, which, despite being a 100 mile race, is more similar to a 200 mile race in terms time to complete and demands on the body. All that being said, the point a previous commenter made earlier about women’s advantage in ultra-distance swimming is true to higher body fat promoting buoyancy. But as for running, it’s just wishful thinking.

    • Replies: @Criticas
  13. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:

    Less chafing and jock itch, I would presume. That becomes an issue for guys on extended runs and walks.

  14. is it really 11% for running at most distances? it might be. i haven’t looked at it as closely. i get the impression the shorter the distance, the bigger the difference. maybe it’s about 11% if you take the most juiced up couple women who ever competed on their best day. but if you look at the field, taking 100 or 200 competitors at the international level in each event each year, it’s probably bigger than 11% on average. might not be 11% for hurdles. need to do some guesstimates to compare 100 hurdles to 110 hurdles too.

    for swimming that’s definitely not how it is. the shorter the distance the bigger the difference. but swimming is mainly about upper body strength, whereas running is about lower body strength. maybe that is the key. i should compare women to men in jumping and throwing in track & field. see if there’s a similar 11% difference in jumps, but the known huge difference in throwing percentage somewhat matches up with the big difference in swimming percentage. so a more apples to apples comparison of lower body ability versus upper body ability.

    in fact i’m gonna look up this stuff on iaaf.org and fina.org

    but yeah, when you get into serious distance running, women are at less of a disadvantage. one of my friends who is a very good marathon runner did a 100 mile competition in colorado and finished in 29 hours. the field was about 600 runners. i think the best woman finished around number 15, way ahead of him by hours.

    • Replies: @anon
  15. “But militaries don’t see much evidence that women can outmarch men, so this is rather puzzling.”

    not puzzling at all when you add 70 pounds of stuff. women crumble.

    so would skinny africans, as another poster mentioned.

  16. Women often do better than men at extreme ocean swimming, such as Lynne Cox being the first to swim the 53-mile-wide Bering Strait:

    Of course — they’re fatter!

    • LOL: Rosie
  17. @Anon

    More fatty tissues keep her afloat better?

    Yes, and it keeps her warmer.

  18. Whiskey says: • Website

    The Proclaimers say they would win a 500 mile race. And then another.

  19. Thomas says:

    But militaries don’t see much evidence that women can outmarch men, so this is rather puzzling.

    Not really. Carrying over a hundred pounds of gear, it helps to have denser bones and more muscle all around to support that weight. Stress fractures of the lower extremities are very common in any military training that involves a lot of pack humping. (The Army did a study once that found as many as half the soldiers in a Special Forces selection course were suffering from tibial stress fractures, notwithstanding the fact that most of them were asymptomatic.)

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  20. Cortes says:

    Women have lifelong training in endurance events from the first time they’re in a queue or line and at what they secretly refer to among themselves as “the moment of truth” when payments are required, proceed with all due lentitudinal thoroughness to explore each and every nook, cranny, fold and torn seam of pockets, bags and purses before handing over card or currency.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  21. Anonymous[315] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thomas

    (The Army did a study once that found as many as half the soldiers in a Special Forces selection course were suffering from tibial stress fractures, notwithstanding the fact that most of them were asymptomatic.)

    Cite?

    • Replies: @psmith
  22. Tyrion 2 says:

    First, she is amazing. I don’t get why she would do this but actually doing it is incredible.

    If you’ve run 60 miles then the idea of crossing the finishing line and going back round again, and again, and then for 20 miles as well, is absolutely horrifying. Huge respect to her.

    Nonetheless, the percentage of participants who are actually “racing” in things like this is very small. Even at 60 miles.

    And it is a smaller percentage still of those racing participants who have done anything like serious training.

    Of those few (possibly a literal few) serious racing participants, there’s a high percentage, inevitable and somewhat random dropout from injuries throughout the day.

    This may mean that she was the only serious racing participant who didn’t fall to injury. It is obscured by the fact that the vast majority of people participate only to complete and that almost no one has the time and inclination to properly train for something like this – especially given the lack of substantial financial reward.

    The general rule of thumb is that your pre-race runs should regularly be at least half the race’s distance and fast. While I doubt this is actually possible at this distance, even approaching it makes demands on unrenumerated people’s lives that only a handful can bear.

    TLDR miniscule sample size. Possibly 2 or 3 or even 1 with big element of luck, means that jo general conclusions can be drawn.

    Also…she is one tough mthrfkr.

    • Replies: @peterike
    , @Clyde
  23. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Cortes

    Smile, look her in the eye, tap your pockets and wry and dramatic-like lament “oh no, I must have left my wallet at work, thank goodness you are here, I wouldn’t want to have to spend the rest of the evening as the restaurant’s pot wash…ha..ha..ha”.

  24. Rosie says:

    My feet ache just from reading this. I’ll need a good soak.

    • Replies: @jim jones
  25. @Steve Sailer

    In contrast, professional track stars need a few months off between marathons (26 miles).

    There are people who run marathons day after day, though I doubt if they run at anywhere near a professional track pace.

    This guy ran 401 marathons in 401 “consecutive” days (he took a 10 day break for injuries but made up the distance.)

  26. The military is having problems with injuries caused by marching with all the weight worn by troops. Too many people get discharges from destroyed joints.

  27. @PiltdownMan

    Okay, but the big paydays in track are the European track meets each Sunday for about six weeks after each Olympics. The top 10k men usually run in just about each one of them and typically run excellent times. The implication to me is that running 10k quite fast isn’t all that debilitating. You can do it again next Sunday.

    On the other hand, the Kenyan Olympic team uses the Boston Marathon on April 19 as their Olympic qualifier and then typically the qualifiers’ next race is the Olympic Marathon in August, about 3.5 months later.

    The 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon trial will be the Atlanta Marathon on 2/29/2020. It was announced today that the 2020 Olympic marathon will start at dawn on 8/9/2020 in Tokyo. So that’s 5.3 months later. I don’t know whether the 3 U.S. qualifiers will compete in any marathons in-between.

  28. Kyle says:

    I was a swimmer in high school. I did alotbof ocean swimming a and I was also a lifeguard at the “Y.”
    In swimming men are always much faster because we have upper body strength. But when I was a lifeguard at the pool I would observe some of the high school practices. Women have a much more streamlined body shape, narrow shoulders and wide hips, while men are the opposite, wide shoulders and relatively narrow hips. The women would glide through the water all practice, while the men would power their large bodies through the water. At the end of the set, both would have traveled the same distance; but the woman would have spent much less energy. That being said, I’ve still never heard of a woman beating a man in any pool or ocean swim, and I’ve completed ocean swims up to five miles. We still have more strength and drive. But I could see a woman winning a 10 mile ocean swim or longer, due to their much more streamlined and less massive bodies.

  29. Purpleslog says: • Website

    Listen her from the JRE podcasts from a few years ago. It was fascinating.

  30. jim jones says:
    @Rosie

    Rosie would have been useless in the assault on Okinawa:

  31. Jon says:
    @Anon

    The ultradistance open water swims are done without a wetsuit. Women benefit both from more fat and from fat distribution and overall body shape – they naturally ride in thee water in a more streamlined position, mens legs drag down too much. This advantage doesn’t show up at normal race distances because kicking raises the legs, but you can’t kick as much in the ultradistance races.

    • Replies: @George Taylor
  32. pyrrhus says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    No, women are smaller, and don’t hold body heat as well..This is a major factor in mountaineering..The reality is that women are worse than men at any distance, including ultra marathons.

  33. ItsEve says:

    Maybe the best female athletes are drawn to sports where male and female performance is closest?

  34. @Clyde

    Which one? Those are photos of two different women.

  35. Anonymous[346] • Disclaimer says:
    @PiltdownMan

    Ben Smith wouldn’t have had this achievement were it not for childhood bullying for being gay. People need to realize that anti-bullying and anti-homophobia campaigns lead to stillborn dreams.

    Bullying leads to achieving. If not for bullying we would’ve never heard of Michael Phelps, Chris Rock, Elon Musk, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, et al.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/successful-people-who-were-bullied-2017-12

    The anti-bullying propaganda has implicly targeted masculinity in males and made enemies of strong men, alpha males. E.g., Trump Derangement Syndrome can be blamed on anti-bullying propaganda.

  36. CAL2 says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Daughter loves the Iditarod, so I know more than I should. The dogs play a huge part, of course, but the musher and strategies involved heavily factor into the equation.

    The Seavey family came up with a unique strategy that has helped them win. For the Iditarod rules, you start off with 16 dogs, no replacements, and have to have at least five to finish. Most mushers try to finish with as many dogs as possible. Seavey changed strategies by dropping off non-injured, but slower dogs as the race progressed. He might only finish with eight to ten dogs, but they are his best runners. More speed at the end vs unexpected injuries.

  37. Pregnant women seem to do better than men marching from Tegucigalpa to San Diego.

    • LOL: jim jones
  38. nglaer says:

    Most of the survivors of the Donner Party were women.

  39. Pat Boyle says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Marathon is of course a battle* not just a run. The Greeks – a fractious minor political polity at the time – beat the majesty of the Persian Empire on the plains of Marathon. It was quite a story so a runner took off to tell the folks back at Athens which was 26 miles away. That was such an inconceivable distance that it killed him.

    Now grandmothers and kids routinely make the same run. There’s some lesson here but I sure can’t figure out what it is.

    * It is the first of Creasy’s Fifteen Battles referenced in The Pirates of Penzance

    • Replies: @CPK
    , @PiltdownMan
  40. CPK says:

    One hypothesis: smaller, lighter body = less work for muscles and less impact on joints. Since the effect is cumulative with each stride, it may be too small to matter over short distances, but significant at extreme distances.

  41. My sister-in-law still runs marathons at the age of 60+. But she’s built funny. A tiny torso atop big thighs. She’s small to begin with–one of those relative differences that helps absolutely–but the percentage of upper body dead weight she has to lug 26 miles is vastly disproportionate to what a typical man would carry.

    Not to detract from this woman’s accomplishments, which I respect. Just saying.

    What was that description of a professional racing cyclist’s physiology? Something to the tune of “a pair of blacksmith’s bellows atop dolphin-like thighs”.

    Other great women swimmers, Gertrude Ederle and Greta Andersen.

    “Greta Andersen (born 1 May 1927) is a retired Danish swimmer who won a gold and a silver medal in 100 m freestyle events at the 1948 Summer Olympics. In the mid-1950s she moved to the United States, where she set several world records in marathon swimming in the distances up to 50 miles.”

    “In the mid-1950s she immigrated to Long Beach, California, and later obtained US citizenship. There she switched to marathon swimming and became the first person to swim a major channel both ways (Santa Catalina Channel in 1958). She also set world records in the 10, 25 and 50 miles. Between 1957 and 1965 she crossed the English Channel six times, setting a record for most Channel swims by a woman, as well as a speed record for women at 10:59 h in 1958. She also set an unofficial record for the longest Channel swim, while trying for 23 h to cross the Channel forth and back in 1964.” Wiki

  42. anon[123] • Disclaimer says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Most of the credit goes to the breeder, according to Epstein’s “The Sports Gene”.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
  43. CPK says:
    @Pat Boyle

    Herodotus says that Phidipedes ran from Athens to Sparta (about 150 miles) and back in two days, and then the 26 miles to Marathon, which would be pretty amazing even today.

    Of course, Herodotus also says that northern Europe was inhabited by cyclopes who stole gold from griffons, so take that for what it’s worth.

    The Romans seem to have invented the part about him running from Marathon to Athens to report the victory, and dropping dead when he got there. The 19th-century romantics picked the story up and ran with it (so to speak).

  44. @Steve Sailer

    The top 10k men usually run in just about each one of them and typically run excellent times. The implication to me is that running 10k quite fast isn’t all that debilitating. You can do it again next Sunday.

    On the other hand, the Kenyan Olympic team uses the Boston Marathon on April 19 as their Olympic qualifier and then typically the qualifiers’ next race is the Olympic Marathon in August, about 3.5 months later.

    Lesser mortals who run marathons more slowly than Kenyan champions often report that they hit a brick wall around mile 20-22, and that it feels like they are damaging their bodies every step after that.

    It is quite possible that at a championship speed (roughly 12 miles per hour) it takes 3-5 months or so for elite marathon runner bodies to recover back to a level of fitness where they can once again run a marathon in a bit over 2 hours.

    That is, it is reasonable to suppose that the metabolic aspects of recovery are different for a 42k marathon, run at those speeds. relative to a 10k—even if medicine does not have a clear understanding of what exactly happens.

    On the other hand, ultramarathoners, and these guys who run daily marathons do run more slowly, sometimes much more slowly, likely well inside some as yet not-well-understood metabolic threshold.

    Even so, they must be genetically well endowed for the task. Stronger, thicker ligaments and bones and muscles and so on.

    There’s a lot of data on finishers in endurance events such as the Pike’s Peak run or various ultra-marathons. I wonder if women’s edge in endurance is weighted towards swimming, or all endurance events in general.

    I’m sure there’s also data on survival rates of women in times of fame relative to men, but I expect that in extreme situations like that, cultural, gender influenced altruistic factors come into play.

    • Replies: @Forbes
  45. @Pat Boyle

    That was such an inconceivable distance that it killed him.

    Now grandmothers and kids routinely make the same run. There’s some lesson here but I sure can’t figure out what it is.

    Pheidippides actually ran about 150 miles in a day-and-a-half, right before running the final leg, to from Marathon to Athens, according to Herodotus.

  46. Criticas says:
    @A fan

    There are so few ultrarunners that an exceptional woman could best even a group of elite men. I suspect there are even fewer ultra long distance swimmers. In long-distance biking, men conclusively outperform women. That might be expected on mountain bike and climbing events, where upper body and core strength plays a larger role, but is also true on relatively flat events.

    Another standout ultrarunner was Pam Reed. two-time winner of the Badwater, and holder of the women’s record for the 24-hour track run. She believes her anorexia as a teenager taught her to ignore pain, trained her body to persist under extreme stress, and made her mentally capable of pressing on. (Imagine 500+ circuits of a quarter-mile track in 24 hours). Her win in 2002 remains (remained?) the women’s course record, while men’s times have dropped.

  47. I remember reading about a type of endurance race run on a standard track. The runners keep running and any runner that is lapped must drop out . Race continues until there is only one left.

  48. Sleep says:
    @Anon

    I was curious so I looked up a fact I remembered from the Guinness book of world records long ago. Karen Muir still holds the world record for the fastest 110 yard backstroke, faster than all other men and women, and she set it when she was only 12. However, it’s possible this record still stands primarily because the international standard is now the very similar 100 meters, rather than 110 yards. Men and women have both beat her time using the new 100 meter pool, and by enough that it’s reasonable to assume they would have beat her in 110 yards as well. Still, it’s interesting to see that she was able to set that record in the first place. Swimming definitely calls for a specific body type, and sometimes big muscles can actually be a hindrance.

    • Replies: @Kyle
  49. anon[148] • Disclaimer says:
    @prime noticer

    Ultra-long-distance running is mostly about conserving energy and maintaining core temperature compatible with staying conscious and upright. Having as little weight as possible on your distal joints (i.e., small, light bones and no meat) is very important, because every ounce you are swinging on a pendulum (foot) adds up disproportionately in terms of energy drain (again, per Epstein’s “The Sports Gene” and the research cited therein). Being born/training at the right altitude and having proportionately long legs is also important, which is why the Kalenjin tribe in the Kenyan highlands, or their Ethiopian cousins, who have all these attributes, dominate long-distance running.

    However, if the ambient temp is, say, 50F, then they can’t maintain a high enough core temperature and start losing to White and Asian runners, as happened in the 2018 Boston marathon. It was rainy, windy, with temps in the 40s, and only 1 African woman made it into the Top 10 (at 9), instead of the usual 7 or 8. In the past 20 years, only 2 winners in the women’s division have not been Kenyan or Ethiopian.
    Among men, there has been only one white winner of Boston marathon in the past 30 years (an Italian in 1990). In 2018, the number of East Africans in the Top 10 dropped from the usual 8-10 to just 4, including a couple of “Americans” and a “Dutch” man. A Japanese won, with 5 white men in the Top 10, an astounding showing at the elite level. As someone noted here, if we gave runners 40lb packs, probably 10 out of 10 would’ve been white.
    Interestingly, while the men’s times in the 2018 Boston were off by 6-10 minutes compared to the 2017 results, for women the gap grew more than twice, to 18-26 minutes. E.g., Edna Kiplagat, winner in 2017 at 2:21, 9th in 2018 at 2:47. Cold and wind are racist and sexist against Africans and women.

  50. @Anon

    AGREED. Commenter # 1 with the number one correct answer.

    I’m done here…

    …. for now.

  51. peterike says:
    @Tyrion 2

    First, she is amazing. I don’t get why she would do this but actually doing it is incredible

    She’s not amazing, she’s crazy. This is just another kind of warped virtue signalling. There’s a very funny short video about this:

  52. @Anonymous

    … not to mention the nipple chafing too.

    Just ask Andrew Barnard as he races for the cure (for rabies):

  53. psmith says:
    @Anonymous

    Not exactly stress fractures and not the military, but may be relevant: http://www.runningwritings.com/2012/05/injury-series-tibial-stress-fractures.html ctrl+F “healthy bone remodeling”

  54. @nglaer

    Most of the survivors of the Donner Party were women.

    Yes, and my great great great Grandmama was the one who fried up and ate that last piece of bacon.* Even so, it wasn’t enough protein to get her the rest of the way through the Sierras. (If they’d only not missed seeing that “Donner Pass” sign due to the heavy snow cover.)

    Sorry, too soon?

    * For years, I’d always wondered why they bothered to fry up just one damn piece of bacon. I took things very literally back then.

    “That last piece of bacon that morning was fried …” (from Sweet Betsy from Pike)

  55. psmith says:

    Not to play too hard to the crowd here, but:

    After tracking Dauwalter for two days in Tahoe, Kyle Curtin passed her at Mile 182. Forty-nine hours 54 minutes after starting the Tahoe 200, Dauwalter crossed the finish line in second, twenty-seven minutes behind Curtin. The two set a new course record by almost 10 hours.

    http://durangorunning.com/team/kyle-curtin/

    I suppose it’s your call as to whether this constitutes burying the lede.

  56. Gordo says:

    In shipwrecks fat Chinese women die last, all to do with body fat and bone density.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  57. @Dave Pinsen

    Yeah, maybe. The big thing is that this is the most obscure distance in competitive running. One benchmark of Ultra running is the Western States 100 Miler. The Mens’ course record is approx 3 hours faster than the Womans’ (held by the subject of the article). Ultra running of distances over 50 Miles appeal to an extremely rarified set of the population. Once you get to distances over 100 or 150 miles, your “N”gets v low. Also there is a fresh awareness in the past few years that super long Ultras may inflict long term, maybe permanent damage on the cardiovascular & immune systems.
    So it is hard to draw weighty conclusions when the distance is both obscure & of decreasing popularity.

  58. @nglaer

    And most of the survivors of the Titanic were women, because men sacrificed themselves on behalf of the women. I’d wager it was the same for the Donner party.

  59. My mother could out-speedwalk most men, but she didn’t do it carrying a hundred pounds of gear.

  60. Dan Smith says:

    When I was running marathons back in the late 70s, the “debate” raged about how women held a supposed advantage in ultramarathons because of the slower overall pace making fat metabolism more important than other factors. Since women had higher body fat percentage, the theory proposed, they could outlast the men. It was nothing more than feminist BS fantasy and continues to be. I’m not surprised a NYT writer would dredge it up. The Leadville 100 (very prestigious ultra race held at altitude has course records of 15:42 for men, 18:06 for women. Two and a half hour differential. Not even close. The reason a woman is doing well at 200 miles has to do with cherry picking the right race. When I was 53 I stopped in a small Wisconsin town on my way to visit a daughter in college. I entered a 5 mile race and won it. Not because I was particularly fast. The sample size of the runners allowed me the distinction of being able to win.

    • Replies: @Forbes
  61. Forbes says:
    @Anonymous

    Good lord, there are all sorts of remedies for those maladies. It’s not as if runners ignored the chafing, etc.–experienced runners, that is. Weekend warriors suffer at their own peril for their stupid enthusiasms.

  62. Cortes says:
    @Gordo

    The conquistadors targeted fat enemies and achieved a great twofer:

    The fat were leaders, and their killing caused confusion in the ranks. The fat was extracted and applied to seal wounds on horses. Well, Bernal Diaz ( footsoldier’s classic account of “The Conquest of New Spain”) refers to horses, but I’d imagine that wounded troops got the same treatment.

  63. @Semperluctor

    I don’t believe Army troops march very much these days. They ride around in jeeps and Humvees. Perhaps the USMC is different.

  64. Clyde says:
    @Tyrion 2

    Who knows you might come back as a Tarahumara Indian in your next life. I read this book.

    Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the …
    http://www.amazon.com › Books › Travel › South America

    This book is fascinating with its descriptions of the running tribes of Mexico, the quirky people the author meets along his journey to better understand ultra running, the discussions of how “better” running equipment hurts runners, and the description of the exciting race that is the conclusion of the book.

    4.7/5
    Price: 12.47

    Reviews: 3.9K
    Author: Christopher McDougall

  65. @Jon

    The ultradistance open water swims are done without a wetsuit. Women benefit both from more fat and from fat distribution and overall body shape – they naturally ride in thee water in a more streamlined position, mens legs drag down too much. This advantage doesn’t show up at normal race distances because kicking raises the legs, but you can’t kick as much in the ultradistance races.

    Very likely true. Linked is footage of the current queen of ultra long distance swimming, Sarah Thomas record setting 104 mile swim. Notice how her legs are always near the surface of the water but she is not kicking very hard. Incredibly this took her 67 hours, she had to keeping swimming for 2 and half nights. Note, like Courtney, Sarah is also from Colorado, many ultra distance athletes are. Altitude training may benefit as well. Another observation, women ultra distance athletes seem to be almost exclusively White. https://vimeo.com/229320346

    • Replies: @Kyle
  66. @peterike

    That is hilarious; they get the tone exactly right.

    • Agree: Autochthon
  67. Rosie says:

    Incredibly this took her 67 hours, she had to keeping swimming for 2 and half nights.

    That’s gonna give me nightmares!

  68. Forbes says:
    @PiltdownMan

    Lesser mortals who run marathons … often report that they hit a brick wall around mile 20-22…

    Known simply as ‘the wall’ at mile 20 is when your body has consumed all of its available blood sugar and is switching over to consuming fat stores (lipids–triglycerides– in adipose tissue), which need be converted back to blood sugar. A taxing physiological transition. Also potentially dangerous.

    Hitting the wall is essentially your energy tank running dry, and switching over to the reserve tank takes a while. Preventing it is the whole idea behind carbo-loading the night before a marathon.

    Both carbo-loading and hitting “the wall” are probably less than ideal for your body.

    I hit the wall in my first marathon–very weird sensation. After that, my training and diet were much improved, and didn’t hit the wall again.

  69. Forbes says:
    @peterike

    Times have certainly changed.

    I ran marathons when it was crazy to do–and only talked about it with other marathoners who agreed we were wacko nuts. It was not trendy. It was to prove you could accomplish the impossible (well, difficult) as a personal goal. The meaning is entirely personal–it is meaningless to anyone else.

    Now, with social media, everyone is a narcissistic exhibitionist who can’t shut-up about their latest obsession. Boring.

    And yeah, the tone is right–and could be repeated for a 100 obsessions people can’t shut-up about.

  70. @Semperluctor

    And if you had to swim the Bering Straight with a 100 lb. pack on your back . . . . that would really winnow the field.

  71. @PiltdownMan

    “Marathoning” since the late 90s doesn’t mean what it used to. The average finish time in the era when it would attract truly lean athletic participants (1965-95) was quite respectable (eg around 3 to 3.5 hours).
    In the past 25 years, the sport has become both infantalized & feminized to where it is merely about finishing – even if at laughably slow times like 5 hours. This means that most finishers aren’t runners in any meaningul sense. They are in mediocre shape & with half baked training. Essentially the running scene for most marathoners is an inchoate reaction to the obesity crisis & an outlet for socializing. The events are status notches like going to a wine tasting, eco-tourism trip or music festival. And yeah, the obscuritans who do daily marathons for an entire year are just proving that you can do them consecutively if you hold back & run at a cautious pace with lots of walk breaks.

  72. Women have a higher tolerance for pain, likely linked to their birthing function, making them good candidates to win these masochistic, endurance-based sporting events. The type of woman who could endure such a merciless assault on her body—inflicted by a female, namely herself—could probably survive the verbal abuse at the typical mom-dominated office job, too.

  73. @Steve Sailer

    I’m no marathon expert, so I had to look this up, but it seems like Steve is right.

    In 2016 Galen Rupp was the top Olympic marathoner for the US. He qualified at the LA Marathon in February, then didn’t run another one until Rio in August. He didn’t run in Boston that year, but did in 2017 and 2018. Interestingly, he dropped out after 20 miles in 2018.

    His primary event was the 10K, and he didn’t take a break from running those at any time.

  74. NickG says:

    Are Women Faster Than Men at Running/Walking 200 Miles?

    Probably not, simply because they tend not to win ultra marathons such as the South African Comrades and the Marathon Des Sables.

  75. well i crunched some numbers if anybody cares, and i was somewhat correct. the difference between men and women running at the international level is more than 11% most of the time.

    what i didn’t expect is that difference got bigger the further the race was, not less.

    it starts out at 11% or 12% for the fastest few 100 runners, then gets bigger when you:

    1) increase from 100 to 200, then 200 to 400, then 400 to 800, and so on, with NO plateau as the track races get longer. men are a good amount faster than women by 5000 and 10,000 track races.

    2) increase the further down the rankings you go. compare the number 1 man to the number 1 woman, the number 100 man to the number 100 woman, the number 200 man to the number 200 woman, and so on.

    i definitely expected the latter, having checked and known that stuff for a while. but i didn’t expect the former.

    the difference goes up to 12%, then 13%, then 14%, then 15% as the race distance gets longer, from 100 to 800. then at 1500, it starts really climbing. the field of men is getting up towards 20% faster at 5000 and 10,000 than women. so the woman advantage in distance running, must start much beyond 6 miles. which would seem to make sense.

    i believe this is due to strength endurance. the women just can’t keep up the pace. they start falling behind that 11% to 12% margin by 200 meters and are dropping fast by 800 meters.

    also steroids help less as the distance gets larger. women can close that gap some by taking steroids. up to 400 maybe, then by 800, drugs help them a lot less against men.

    i did start looking at jumping, but men are just way better. the long jump and high jump START at 20% difference, and get bigger from there.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  76. @prime noticer

    Thanks.

    I looked at this question a lot way back in 1997 but not since then. My assumption back then was that steroids were a big deal up through 1988 when Flo-Jo set records in the 100 and 200 that haven’t been broken since. What I didn’t realize in 1997 was that the endurance drug Epo had arrived in East Africa around 1995, which led to a lot of new men’s long distance records in 1995-1997.

    Steroids (artificial male hormones) in the 1970s and 1980s closed the gender gap somewhat, but I don’t really know what the sex differential, if any, due to Epo was.

  77. Danindc says:
    @nglaer

    And one family came through the entire ordeal unscathed.

  78. Kyle says:
    @That Guy

    Yeah I remember reading that book, a great read. The author wasn’t Stephen king though, he was using a pen name I think?

  79. Kyle says:
    @George Taylor

    Of course she’s not kicking very hard, kicking in swimming is a waste of energy. It breaks up the water behind you, causes your ass end to sink, And creates tons of drag. The only time kicking would ever make you go faster is if you were in a dead sprint, like the 100 freestyle at the olympics, Then you’re goin to motor, and bunr all of your energy reserves in less than a minute. In any race longer than maybe 200 free, I don’t do very much kicking, just enough to keep my ass end from sinking and losing momentum. Again, it’s mostly a waste of energy.

  80. Kyle says:
    @Sleep

    110 yards isn’t a real distance. In America, such as your local “Y” or in any “NCAA” pool the distance is 25 yards. Many other pools 25 meters. International competitions use pools that are 50 meters. 110 yard backstroke probably means that that race was swam in a 25 meter long pool, in a league that was normally yards. 25 meters times 4 is approximately 110 yards. I could go down to the Y right now and beat that 110 yard backstroke time…

  81. @anon

    So whoever introduced Paula Radcliffe’s parents to each other is the fastest woman in the marathon?

  82. @Anonymous

    Is there a “dumbass” button?

    Do you really think anyone but a complete moron runs marathons and even longer distances without the appropriate clothing and equipment to prevent such easily preventable things as chafing?

    I’ll add assent to the fellow who pointed out nowadays marathons have become goofy farces full of chubby hipsters who half-walk them in five or six hours for the T-shirt and the medal, as well as the fellow who points out how easy it is to place in obscure races with a small field of competitors.

  83. Rodolfo says:

    There is no evidence that women are better at long distance races. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultramarathon
    All male times are better. In the present case, she ran 238 miles (383 km) in 2 days and 9 hours. The male record for 48 hours on the road is 433 km. If we make an interpolation between the 24-hour and 48-hour male records, we can estimate the male record time to 383 km as being 39.6 hours, or 30% less than the time of Mrs Courtney Dauwalter.

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