My position in races is always better in the women’s category than my overall. Well duh, right? Eliminate 50% of the participants, and it stands to reason my ranking would move up.
But of course it’s not that statistically simple. In the Royal Parks Half Marathon last year, my overall position was 3403rd, but my position among women was 617th. This is still stating the obvious though, as it’s not a new concept that men are faster and stronger than women.
But where is the line drawn? To what extent will men always be able to beat women? This was a conversation I had over a few (ahem) glasses of wine with a friend of mine, Mr. Dangerous.
I felt pretty sure that he would beat me at a 10km race, without any training. He’s a fit chap, he goes to the gym, he’s about 6’3″ tall, and is used to pushing himself. He recently trekked to Everest Base Camp, for example. He’s currently rowing and cycling his way around the world (from the safety and convenience of the gym) in to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK (sponsor him here!). He doesn’t however run….at all…..nor has he ever.
I on the other hand run 5+ times, averaging 25-30 miles, a week. I have done several half marathons, and a full marathon. On the other hand, I am shorter than him, and I lug around my thighs and bottom which contribute little by way of power. I don’t have a “push through the pain” mentality; I have very gradually built up to running as I do now, and only do it because for the most part, it doesn’t hurt any more.
We chose the Sevenoaks Rotary 10k race, as the date worked, it started at 11am (what a win!) and it was a reasonable location for all. Mr. Dangerous, living up to his name, had prepared by drinking several bottles of champagne the night before. Even before we began, he didn’t seem overly happy….
So, for clarity, the original bet was that I thought he’d beat me, and he thought I’d beat him. Of course on race day, we both just wanted to crush the other in the race, and all bets were forgotten.
The course was about 75% off road, and the first 2km was entirely uphill. My plan of attack was to break Mr. D at the beginning, by making him run far faster than he should. I hadn’t actually paid much attention to the elevation, but it was on my side in my quest to break my friend, and by the time we did a short out-and-back section at around 3km, Mr. D was nowhere in sight. I had a paranoid thought that perhaps he was miles ahead, but sense told me this was unlikely.
The course was two laps, so I knew I just needed to make it through 5km-7km (the hideous uphill bit for the second time) and it would be downhill to victory. In honesty by this point I wasn’t racing Mr. D any more, but was more focused on getting a reasonable time for myself and not running out of steam. The usual race things.
I crossed the finish line at 00:52:24 (missing my 50-minute goal, but it was a tougher course than I’d expected)…
(Why do I hunch my shoulders like that? I look like such a weirdo.)
….and Mr. D came in at 1:08:11.
Given that Mr. D found it a horrendous experience (I almost felt bad), I was impressed he made it all the way round. Obviously entering a 10km race with no training is far from advisable and I don’t *think* he’ll be trying it again any time soon.
It’s worth noting, my overall place was 111th, and my place in the women’s group was 12th, so the men still have the last laugh. Hey ho – I beat the man I wanted to beat 🙂
Race review > This was a great race. The “race village” (if you can call it that) is at Sevenoaks Leisure Centre, which has loads of parking, and the cadets are there in force to ensure optimal parking so there was no need to hunt out a space. The leisure centre has good facilities including lockers, toilets and even showers for afterwards which Mr. D put to good use. (Little Miss Skanky here just could not be bothered). The race start was about 10 minutes walk from there and there were no facilities down by the course. This was fine by me, but worth noting. The course itself is beautiful. You run across grassland, through woods, and we even saw some deer. The uphill-then-downhill course suited me mentally, and doing two laps didn’t feel boring at all. It got a bit bunched up at the start, but by about 1.5km in, there was plenty of space. After the race, the high street is very nearby and we found a pub for a roast lunch. The timing is perfect in this sense, as we ate at about 12.30pm.