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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Introducing an upcoming series on Women vs. Men in the marathon: 4-part series

Last weekend, Haile Gebrselassie knocked 29 seconds off the four-year old marathon world record with a time of 2:04:26. As tends to happen after these performances, everyone began questioning what the limits to human performance might be? Is it possible to break 2-hours? Geb himself spoke of his own feeling that he would run 2:03 at Berlin someday. Depending on what he meant by 2:03 (that is, 2:03:59 or 2:03:00), I’m sceptical of that ambition, since it requires some extra-ordinary performances to knock 86 seconds off a time that is becoming more and more difficult to crack. We wrote about this possibility in a post a few days ago.

But another way to approach this “limits of performance” issue is to consider whether women might ever outperform men? Last week saw a debate around the men’s world record – well, when Paula Radcliffe ran 2:15:25 in London in 2003, the discussion was deafening. Suddenly, everyone was convinced that the marathon was the event where women would one day catch up to, and then pass, men.

So with that question in mind, and stimulated by a question from one our readers, Jamie, we will run a series of posts looking at men vs. women in running. We’ll look at this issue in four parts:

  1. Women in running – a historical overview and the evolution of the marathon world record
  2. Performance differences between men and women in all running events, and a physiological discussion of why this difference exists
  3. Will women ever outperform men? And more interestingly, does it already happen!
  4. Finally, we look at a scientific paper published earlier this year examining American women in the marathon

This series will begin on Tuesday next week, so join us then, as we delve into this often controversial but interesting discussion!

Until then, the Chicago Marathon and race analysis takes preference!



Julie said...

In Oct 2007 you did a four-part series on women vs. men and the marathon. Where's part four? It's described as: "Finally, we look at a scientific paper published earlier this year examining American women in the marathon."


Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi Julie

You've caught us out! What happened there is that we started with this plan of doing a 4-part series, and it was going well, and then what happened was the Chicago marathon.

One guy died, the race was HUGE news because it was so incredibly hot, and there was all this debate about dehydration and fluid, and we kind of veered off to cover that topic. So you'll see in our list of posts in October that we were covering Chicago and the Women series at the same time, but eventually it got to the point where we were getting ten mails a day on dehydration, so we had to leave the other series behind, unfortunately.

Also, that 4th post was a little weak, I must say. It was a study done looking at the American women's performance in the marathon, and it was actually difficult to link nicely with the other posts, so it kind of got left aside. I do apologize, and it's certainly something we don't plan to do, but just happens as we react to what was maybe the biggest news story of the time.