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[P]
Toughest athlete is female and unknown

By AxelBoldt in Culture
Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:33:30 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

You probably haven't heard about one of the toughest endurance sports around: the deca-ironman. That's 38 km swimming, immediately followed by an 1800 km bicycle ride and a 420 km run. Currently, the world record stands at about 187 hours, held by a German housewife. Nobody else has ever finished the course below 192 hours.


Most people, when asked about the toughest endurance sports, will list the Tour de France (about 4000 km bicycling over some 20 days with plenty of scheduled breaks) or the Hawaiian IronMan triathlon (3.8 km swimming, 180 km bicycling, 42 km running without breaks). Yet the much tougher deca-ironman (38 km swimming, 1800 km bicycling, 420 km running without breaks) remains completely unknown.

This is all the more surprising considering that the current world record (187.3 hours or about 8 days) is held by a woman. Astrid Benöhr was a 42-year-old housewife and mother of three when, in 1999, she improved the world record by almost 5 hours.

Working without a coach, Ms. Benöhr also holds the world record over the five-fold ironman distance: 74 hours, over 2 hours faster than the best competitor, male or female. In addition, she is multiple world champion in various ironman disciplines.

Even in her native Germany, Ms. Benöhr remains almost completely unknown. She has a meager sponsorship contract and hardly ever appears on sports shows.

There is no other sport in which a woman holds the world record. The fact that the only two exceptions are among the very toughest endurance sports thus seems quite significant. Whence this article.

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o Home page of Astrid Benöhr
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Toughest athlete is female and unknown | 46 comments (40 topical, 6 editorial, 1 hidden)
-1, who cares? (1.11 / 18) (#1)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:18:50 AM EST

If it's not the 3 major league sports, "that bike race in france", or Wimbledon, nobody cares.

After all, if they were REALLY popular, lots of people would beat her record.

I don't suppose... (3.00 / 3) (#3)
by desiderandus on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:23:58 AM EST

Have you ever heard of "soccer" or "cricket?"
_________
Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.
[ Parent ]
i have (2.12 / 8) (#5)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:51:11 AM EST

However, soccer only happens once every four years, and I don't see how crickets are relevant to a discussion of sports.

[ Parent ]
Hypocrisy! (2.75 / 4) (#8)
by desiderandus on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 02:34:54 AM EST

If cricket is not a sport, I can't see how baseball is sportly either :)
_________
Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.
[ Parent ]
it's easy (2.00 / 3) (#9)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 02:48:05 AM EST

Baseball isn't an insect.

[ Parent ]
I'm going to assume you're being facetious (nt) (none / 1) (#10)
by desiderandus on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:08:35 AM EST


_________
Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.
[ Parent ]
however (none / 0) (#16)
by xria on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:23:49 PM EST

At least watching crickets jump about and make some noise is more interesting than watching a small white spheroid.

[ Parent ]
you mean golf? [NT] (none / 0) (#19)
by Altus on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:51:58 PM EST



"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]
while other sports never happen (none / 0) (#33)
by tetsuwan on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:28:39 PM EST


Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Three ? (none / 0) (#43)
by TheMgt on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 05:25:25 PM EST

That would be football, football and football. By comparison everything else is a minority sport.

[ Parent ]
Not so surprising it's a woman (2.20 / 5) (#2)
by desiderandus on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:22:11 AM EST

I remember hearing from a physiology professor that men tend to start cannibalizing their muscle protein for energy quicker than women do, so women in fact have greater endurance with extreme-duration events.

The reason that it doesn't show up in traditional endurance sports is that the marathon distance of 26 miles is very close to men's "breaking point," or at least the professor hypothesized this is an underlying reason why the marathon is the most popular endurance sport. And this wasn't some hysterically feminist female professor, this physiology professor was a man who simply loved running.
_________
Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.

Your comment is entirely ridiculous (1.50 / 2) (#6)
by Theoretical User on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 01:49:53 AM EST

  • The information comes secondhand from a physiology professor... who loved running. Forrest Gump loved running, too.
  • This "breaking point"... I'd love to see all the research that went into defining it arbitrarily close to the distance from Windsor castle to a sports stadium.
Guess what? If a marathon was 30 miles instead of 26, a man would hold that record, too. And you can take my word over that of some subpar jock who took his education to the "next level".

___
Your Wife Gives Bad Head. -- CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Your choice (2.00 / 2) (#7)
by desiderandus on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 02:28:36 AM EST

He went to university, medical school and grad school and you likely didn't, so I'll take his word over yours. But I'll be buying another physiology book shortly, hopefully it'll have enough sports medicine that I can get a written reference on this.
_________
Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.
[ Parent ]
So? (none / 0) (#20)
by Xptic on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 05:04:10 PM EST

My physics professor thinks glass is a liquid.  Just because you have a degree, it doed not mean you aren't oppinionated...or just stupid.

[ Parent ]
If you didn't notice... (none / 1) (#25)
by desiderandus on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:03:28 PM EST

I intend to find written references for it. Not everyone is a computer geek with loads of time on their hands, and I don't have access to the best journal databases or textbooks right now anyways. Sweet jeebus, some of you people are self-important pricks to get inflamed when I voice an potential fact (not a gospel).
_________
Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.
[ Parent ]
Spare youre time. (none / 0) (#34)
by dhk on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 09:32:56 AM EST

The imaginary "breaking point" is non existent although a lot has been written about it. Facts are:
When you do an endurance sport like marathon than you have to alter your physiology. The metabolism responsible for gaining energy from "burning fat" has to be boosted. Everybody who simply trains his muscles and cardial fitness, but neglects his fat metabolism is likely to have his deposits of carbohydrates used up after a certain distance. Typically this happens at a distance between 30 and 35km. That's all there is to it.

- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
Actually.... (none / 0) (#36)
by MKalus on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 10:47:20 AM EST

.... before this.

You tend to run "dry" on your stores after around 20 - 30 minutes.

This is why you "carboload" before you do such events and while you tend to eat constantly during those events.

Watch "Le Tour" sometime and you'll see that they are constantly eating. Do an Ironman or even a half marathon and you'll come to realize that they are always eating gels, drink Gatorade etc.

I know, I do this stuff for fun ;)

And "bonking" is a very nasty thing.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Sorry, but... (none / 0) (#37)
by dhk on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 11:28:48 AM EST

I seem be ignorant of the jargon: What is "bonking"?

By the way: I would question the necessity of eating on a half marathon (although I know that folks do it). When you are well trained, then most probably eating high caloric gels is unneccessary. Or even contraproductive (when you don't drink enough plain water with it). The same holds for many electrolyte drinks. Of course, you have to drink a lot, that's rule number one. And you should drink isotonic drinks (or hypotonic when energy isn't an issue). But, for instance, Mg is not taken up quickly enough to prevent cramps during a half marathon.

- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
"bonking" (none / 0) (#38)
by MKalus on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 12:58:48 PM EST

It pretty much means that you start to cramp, you have exhausted your gl stores in the muscles and because you still push the body can't break down fat fast enough to sustain it... really nasty, had it happening to me twice, though usually there is ample warning before you truly get there.

This usually also doesn't happen after 30 minutes, but after longer periods. A really nasty one I had after around 3 hours on the road on the bike with no eating, just some Gatorade and no real breakfast (yes, very stupid).

As for the Gels: They DO help, granted mg and such is not really helping that much during the race, but it shortens your recovery period afterwards. The problem also is that a LOT of people are out there longer than 1:15 or so for a half, I guess the majority does it in around 2 hours and the longer you're out there, the tougher it becomes, not only physical but also mentally.

M.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Thanks! (none / 0) (#39)
by dhk on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 01:33:14 PM EST

Two short comments:

Going for a three hour ride without breakfast is not that stupid, given that your exercise level is low enough. I've done it quite often (although I keep carbohydrates with me, just in case...), and it works wonders for your fat metabolism.

And then: 1:15 for a half is only 10 minutes over the olympic qualification level. You are not saying that you do it in this time, are you?

- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
Don't I wish ;) (none / 0) (#40)
by MKalus on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 05:44:54 PM EST

Well,

my average Bike speed "cursing" is ~35kph, fueling up in between can't hurt as I don't draft ;)

As for my running speed: No I am not running a 1:15, the fastest I was going was slightly under 1:30, but then I only run for a year and half and I am still improving..... Right now I am mainly trying to come back from injury.

http://thedarkerside.to/triathlon/

contains a training log.

BTW, I am from Germany as well, so feel free to drop me an email in German if you like and want to discuss this a bit more.
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

Yeah, well... (none / 0) (#41)
by kurtmweber on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 09:55:43 PM EST

...glass is a liquid--a highly viscous liquid, but a liquid nonetheless.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Well it's a little complicated, but basically (none / 0) (#42)
by gmol on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 12:22:04 AM EST

is a solid.

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/Glass/glass.html

[ Parent ]

It's worse than that... (1.75 / 16) (#4)
by gr3y on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:41:26 AM EST

The public at large doesn't realize that Rich Eley rolled a Zorb ball 323 m near Glynde, East Sussex, UK, on May 10, 1999.

Obviously there's been a cover-up. After all, I've never heard of him.

-1 (as promised) for insinuating that those of us that live in the same world as this hypothetical German housewife should give a shit about her extreme sports accomplishment. Can she navigate the personal minefield that is my working life? Probably not. And nobody gives a shit about that, either.

I am a disruptive technology.

Interesting! (none / 1) (#12)
by sudog on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 05:06:25 AM EST

Hope it makes it through. You probably submitted it for voting at the wrong time; still, this kind of article is an item of interest and contains enough description of this woman's amazing feat to make me want to read more--i.e. you didn't submit a fark or fazed-style story for us. Thanks!

The people voting it down have an unrealistic and narrow view of what a good article is, so don't blame them, they're just having a bad night/month/year.


link (none / 0) (#13)
by forgotten on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 06:00:24 AM EST

would be nice to see a link to the homepage of the sport itself, if one exists. partly because i have trouble believing the sport actually exists. still, +1, on faith.

--

Does the sport exist? (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by AxelBoldt on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:45:34 PM EST

I don't think there is an official website for the sport. At one point, something called the "International Ultra Triathlon Association" existed, but all its websites are now defunct.

The sport however exists without a doubt. You can search for "ultra triathlon" or "deca ironman".



[ Parent ]
It does exist, (none / 0) (#35)
by MKalus on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 10:40:21 AM EST

though the way it comes to "pass" is usually not in a very well organized fashion.

There IS a double Ironman in Quebec every year though and here is a list of all other "Ultra" Events.

http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/ultramentor/events.html

BTW, they are a LOT of fun :)
-- Michael
[ Parent ]

what? (none / 0) (#23)
by the77x42 on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 06:53:38 PM EST

an unknown wins an unknown competition? hey guys, I hold the WORLD RECORD for my own baseball league.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

yeh, not once the drug test comes back -nt (3.00 / 8) (#28)
by forgotten on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 03:12:18 AM EST


--

[ Parent ]

Well known fact: (none / 1) (#24)
by Xoder on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 06:56:19 PM EST

Women are significantly better at ultra-long-distance events than men. Many reasons have been theorized, but really, all that matters is that if it requires going a ludicrous distance, women will kick our asses until the end of time.

Lately I've been hearing that god's on our side But rumor has it, there's one on their side too So what I'd like to know is, when it comes down to it, can my god kick their god's ass or what?
really? (none / 0) (#26)
by khallow on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:22:56 PM EST

Women are significantly better at ultra-long-distance events than men. Many reasons have been theorized, but really, all that matters is that if it requires going a ludicrous distance, women will kick our asses until the end of time.

So there is evidence?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

yep, but I don't have any links myself (none / 0) (#27)
by Xoder on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:10:48 PM EST

I would suggest googling for "ultramarathon"

Lately I've been hearing that god's on our side But rumor has it, there's one on their side too So what I'd like to know is, when it comes down to it, can my god kick their god's ass or what?
[ Parent ]
Indirectly, sure (2.40 / 5) (#31)
by davidduncanscott on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 01:16:24 PM EST

Ever sat in a bar and listened to some idiot ragging on his wife? You and I sit there and think, "Man, i would have shot this bastard years ago!", but there she is, enduring.

Beyond that, consider the idea of twelve hours of labor. If a man went through even a fairly quick childbirth, we'd have him bronzed and mounted just for stamina and grit. Women just do it and move on.

[ Parent ]

Dubious. (none / 0) (#29)
by Meshigene Ferd on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 05:33:53 AM EST

See e.g. here.
--
‮‫אַ גויישע קאָפּ!‮


[ Parent ]

Define "ludicrous" (3.00 / 4) (#32)
by Sgt York on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 03:34:33 PM EST

Disclaimer : I am a physiology instructor and a biochemist. And thank you, I have a lecture on exercise physiology in a few weeks. This will make a great discussion topic.

Links are from a simple Pubmed search. Don't just read the first one, it will skew you to thinking that men are naturally superior all around. It does not take into account ultraendurance events as discussed here. That said, it is from Science.

Most research indicates that women and men have compensatory mechanisms in place that make them equal to each other. There was a lot of talk in the early 90's about women's superioroty in these events, as that they were gaining on men in the Olympics and Ironman type events. This was a statsitical analomy brought about by an increased interest in these sports by women, and by doping by Eastern Bloc nations in the 80s.

But most current research says that women & men are probably fundamentally equal in potential for ultraedndurance, but men edge out in high endurance (Ironman, marathon). Men have a greater oxygen carrying capacity. Men have larger hearts & lungs, proportionally, and have higher RBC counts. Testosterone is a positive inotrope; it increases the contractile force of striated muscle like skeletal muscle and the heart. The RBC counts are partially due to the absence of menses, but that only accounts for part of the difference. The larger lungs allow for a decreased percentage dead space, as well as increased tidal volume. Larger heart means greater stroke volume, which means moving more blood with less work.

Women, OTOH, use less O2 than men because the muscles focus on use of fatty acids (beta oxidation) rather than carbohydrates (glycogenolysis, glycolysis, and ox phos). The oxygen effects cancel each other out, giving no clear advantage to one over the other. Some people suggest that the reduced O2 demand by women may give them an advantage, but decreased carboloading effects make some people skeptical. I'm on the fence, personally.

This only has an impact on submaximal levels of activity, like endurance training. At maximal levels, men win out because of the ready use of anearobic stores like glycogen, resistance to entering anaerobic phase, and inotropic effects of testosterone.

That said, that is one incredible woman. It is her dedication to the task that makes her great at what she does, it is not her gender.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Ultramarathoners a different beast (3.00 / 6) (#30)
by gobbo on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 12:24:35 PM EST

I once met an ultramarathoner and middle-distance musher in Duluth. We were cycling through town, and being the gregarious type, but lonely for his own kind (long-distance freaks), he invited us back to his place for the 'night'.

His night consists of 4 hours of sleep: 1am-5am. He gets up naturally without an alarm, then feeds his 24 dogs, and takes six  of them for an 8-mile run on his bike (when there's not enough snow for a sled). After that, he's off on a 12-mile run or bike to work in town. Runs home. After work, more running the dogs.

For summer fun, he runs 50 and 100 mile races. The 100 mile race is non-stop. In winter, he does middle-distance mushing (over 200miles, IIRC).

I am not the same kind of organism as that. Perhaps I could overcome some genetic shortcomings (I'm 'normal') and approach that level of fitness, but I would never have the constitution for it, and need to sleep 7+ hrs. He's a nobody in the same way as Astrid, but a real hero by nature, at the edge of human norms. I've met a few others in a similar category, and wonder how just many I pass in the street are quietly, truly extraordinary.

No other female world record holders? (none / 0) (#44)
by alby on Sat Oct 23, 2004 at 10:43:21 AM EST

I believe, the freediving world record is held by a woman, Tanya Streeter. Who, as a bonus, is quite a fittie.

See also here.

--
Alby

Not currently (none / 0) (#45)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Oct 26, 2004 at 11:02:27 AM EST

Tanya made the world record in 2002 and lost it the same year to a man.

[ Parent ]
Correction (none / 0) (#46)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Oct 26, 2004 at 11:35:16 AM EST

Actually I was wrong, there is indeed a discipline in which Tanya currently holds the absolute world record: Free Diving World Records.

[ Parent ]
Toughest athlete is female and unknown | 46 comments (40 topical, 6 editorial, 1 hidden)
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