Thursday, August 13, 2009

More women finish...

...the crazy Leadville 100 race every year, than men. I should back up and add the qualifications and explanations that provide the necessary context for that statement. Last night I came across this fascinating (to me) statistic in Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run (which is a fast, fun read about all sort of crazy trail running peoples). Apparently at the Leadville 100, an infamous (and maybe a bit insane) 100 mile trail race in Colorado every year, 50% or less of the men who start actually finish, but 90% or more of the women finish.

That's a pretty extraordinary difference. McDougall doesn't speculate as to why, nor apparently does anyone else, at least not anyone he quotes. So I have a wide open field in which to speculate. Some possibilities--women have a higher "quitting" threshold; women don't start races (or other things) that they can't finish; women approach daunting challenges with more humility (think the tortoise and the hare); women are tougher (have higher pain thresholds etc...); women are proportionately less crazy, so there are fewer of them to show up at the starting line and those who do are certifiable, whereas some of the men are only part of the way to certifiable?

I don't even know which one of those speculative answers I think is the right one, but it's fun wondering and whatever the reason--women finish.