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Race Coverage

Race Coverage

Women in Ultra and MultiStage Races

 WOMEN IN ULTRA AND MULTISTAGE RACES

Ultra running over the years has been predominately the preserve of male participants. At RacingThePlanet and 4 Desert Ultramarathon Series races we have noticed similar rates of participation, and we usually have between 20-25% female competitors. There are many reasons for these statistics but the good news is the number of women participating in our sport has gradually been increasing over the years.

Statistics also show that women are, in fact, more likely to finish an ultramarathon than their male counterparts. It is considered that the female body may actually be better adapted to running ultra distances. Theories such higher body fat percentage, smaller frame, higher pain thresholds and an ability to better cope with heat have all been suggested as physiological advantages. And we’ve found that women of all levels, from the front of the pack to the back, are enjoying great success in our races.

Henrietta

Pictured above is Henriette Madsen from Denmark enjoying the evening sun on the day of the Long March at the Namib Race 2019.  She was one of the 26 female finishers in the race.

The greater the event distance, the more level the playing field between the sexes tends to be. Many of the very longest races have had female overall winners. Cat Simpson, who finished 2nd female at the Atacama Crossing 2014, blew away the field with a course-record winning time in The Thames Path (UK) 145 mile ultra in 2018. Joanna Zakrzewski, women’s winner at Namibia Race 2019, was overall winner of the 2016 Race to the King (UK), a 53-mile ultra. Many more female 4 Deserts / RacingThePlanet alumuni have outstanding performances and been overall race winners.

WILL WE EVER HAVE A FEMALE OVERALL WINNER?

YES, ABSOLUTELY! Despite the RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts never having a female competitor finish on top of the pile, it’s only a matter of time before this happens. There have been some outstanding performances and on three occasions, female competitors have broken in to the top 3 overall finishers. Lucy Brooks (UK) tops the pack with her 2nd place finish at the Gobi March 2007. More recently, both Jax Mariash (USA) and Angela Zaeh (Canada) finished just 26 minutes off 3rd place at the Atacama Crossing 2016 and 2017, respectively. Joanna Zakrzewski (UK), the most recent female top finisher, was just 40 minutes off taking 3rd place at the Namib Race 2019. In the table below are the female competitors that have challenged for the overall top spot. 

Race and Year

Name

Overall Placing

Namib  Race 2019

Joanna Zakrzewski

5th

Gobi  March 2018

Angela Zaeh

5th

Atacama Crossing  2017

Angela Zaeh

5th

Atacama  Crossing 2016

Jax Mariash

4th

Atacama  Crossing 2014

Emily Woodland

5th

Last Desert 2016

Jax Mariash

5th

RacingThePlanet Sri Lanka 2016

Sandy Suckling

5th

Gobi  March 2012

Anne-Marie Flammesfeld

4th

Sahara  Race 2012

Anne-Marie Flammersfeld

5th

The Last Desert 2012

Anne-Marie Flammersfeld

3rd

RacingThePlanet Jordan 2012

Katia Figini

5th

Sahara Race 2010

Katie Figini

5th

RacingThePlanet Austrailia 2010

Lisa Farley

3rd

RacingThePlanet Namibia 2009

Lia Harley

5th

RacingThePlanet Namibia 2009

Lucy Hilton

4th

Gobi March 2007

Lucy Brooks

2nd

Sahara Race 2006

Clare Price

5th

Sahara Race 2005

Terri Schneider

4th

 

Whatever your goal as a competitor taking part in ultramarathons, your gender has little influence on your success in finishing your event and, if the evidence is correct, being female may just give you the edge. If nothing else, it shows there is no restriction to anyone enjoying success in our chosen sport.

US Ladies

Pictured above: Louise Cooper, Nancy Bristow and Terri Schneider (USA) power through ‘Dune Day’ at the Namib Race 2019

https://womensrunninguk.co.uk/inspiration/why-women-are-better-at-ultrarunning/