Women and Endurance Events

Paula Radcliffe – sometimes only the men could keep her company

In recent years there have been more and more examples of women exceling in endurance events. Where man has set himself new goals of endurance women have not been far enough emulating these feats. One of the greatest marathon runners has been Paula Radcliffe. In her career she won the London marathon in 2202, 2003 and 2005, she won the New York marathon in 2004, 2007 and 2008, and she also won the Chicago marathon in 2002. She won the marathon gold at the world championships in 2005 although she never managed to win an Olympic Gold.

During the 2003 London marathon she broke the world record in a time of 2:15:25 and during the same year in 2003 she also set the world record for a road 10km race in a time of 30 minutes and 21 seconds. There were times during her career that she would seem unbeatable and would often run in a group of male athletes as no other females could keep up with her pace. However, there were occasions that she experienced the downside of competing in such an exhausting event. In the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon she was the firm favourite but 2 weeks prior to the event she experienced an injury to her leg.

Forced into taking anti-inflammatory tablets the side effects resulted in her having to withdraw from the race after 22 miles. Whilst many could not understand why she could have not just slowly finished the race, the majority failed to understand the debilitating effects that running out of endurance can have on body and mind.

Chrissie Wellington never lost an Ironman Competition

Equal to Radcliffe’s performances on the track were Chrissie Wellington’s results in the Ironman. She actually had come to the sport late and only was inspired after working in Nepal where she spent a great deal of time cycling and running at altitude. In her 13 races as an iron man competitor she never suffered a defeat. She won the world Championships on four occasions in 2007, 2008 2009 and 2011 and did not compete in 2010 due to injury. During these victories she simply got better and at challenge Roth in 2011 she won the event in 8 hours 18 minutes and 13 seconds which was a new world record time. She was the overall 5th placed athlete and the only one man beat her marathon time of 2:45:13 was the eventual male winner Andreas Raelert who also set a new world record time.

However, in many people’s eyes her finest performance was her last one when winning the 2011 World Championships back in Kona. Despite suffering serious injuries as a result of a crash two weeks prior to the event, she still entered ignoring professional advice not to do so. Knowing she was competing in the most demanding of sports not 100% fit she decided to ease off the swim and the bike and leave her final efforts to the run. Entering the marathon there were 5 women in front of her but despite running in pain she managed to finish in 2:54:41 to claim her fourth title.

There can be no greater claim to possessing endurance that being able to swim 2.4 miles then cycle 114 miles and the finish it off with a marathon under 3 hours. But Wellington managed to do this throughout her career. Despite her not being widely known even in the United Kingdom she must be one of the greatest sportsman Britain has ever produce.

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