Tuesday, January 07, 2020


"In September this year, the US swimmer Sarah Thomas (already holder of the world record for the longest open-water swim) completed another breathtaking feat of endurance. The Channel Swimming Association records 1,652 solo, observed, unassisted swims (no neoprene wetsuits or flotation devices) of the Channel since 1875. Thirty-four people have swum it there and back without stopping. Four people have swum it three times in a row (two men, two women). But only one – Thomas – has swum it four times. It took her 54 hours and 10 minutes, and though the crossing at its narrowest point is 20 miles, because of the strong tides pushing against her, she actually swam not 80 but close to 130 miles."
Ultra-endurance athletes are a whole different species. Interestingly, it's one athletic endeavor where women do extremely well relative to the guys, and researchers are studying why that is. It might be psychological.
"Paris tells me about another infamous ultra race she ran in 2015, the Dragon’s Back: five days, 315km and 15,500m of ascent in the Welsh mountains. “One of my role models is Helene Diamantides, one of the pioneers of women’s fell running. She said to us at the start of the race: look around the room. If you are a man, you have a 50% chance of finishing the race. If you’re a woman, you have a 90% chance. But then, there were far fewer women in the room. Because they have less ego, they wouldn’t turn up unless they were well-prepared. Whereas men can be a bit like, how hard can this be?”"