Pushing boundaries; challenging stereotypes; breaking records; developing the female fitness industry. Female athletes who are at the forefront of their sport or game are grabbing more of the media spotlight than ever before. These powerhouses are not only doing it for women but in many cases are proving direct competition to their male counterparts. Female endurance athletes especially really impress with their feats of physical stamina and perseverance; a real inspiration for any woman on her own personal fitness journey, whatever her goals.
Women are going faster, further and stronger than ever before and there is a palpable excitement in the air about the fact that women are getting much more attention than ever before for their amazing physical performances. Look for inspirational female athletes in any sport and you will find. With endurance sports it is not just the final result that is so worthy but the fact that these are women who have practiced and fought to overcome so many obstacles to reach the pinnacle of their physical capabilities.
Jennifer Pharr Davis
She's hiked over 12,000 miles across six continents; Jennifer Pharr Davis is perhaps one of the most famous trail hikers in the world. In 2011 she hiked the Appalachian Trail, which is a staggering 2,181 miles. Not only did she cover an average of around 47 miles a day but she’d already been the first woman to do so three years earlier. On top of this she was the fastest person to do so and broke the record for the fastest thru-hike by completing the hike in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. In 2012 she was named one of the Adventurers of the Year by National Geographic. This year even her summer holiday includes 500 miles of hiking in Spain!
She not only completed an Ironman in 2005 in 15 hours in Hawaii but she managed to achieve a world first too. Why? Because Sarah Reinertsen only has one leg. Born with a bone-growth disorder her leg was amputated above the knee when she was seven. By 13 she had broken the 100m world record for women with the same disability. By 16 she was competing in the Paralympics in Barcelona. A record for 400m in the T42 disability classification category, which she set in 1999, is yet to be broken. Add on to this a first for being the first female with a leg amputation to run the 10K Great Wall Marathon in China in 2011.
If you want to attract attention in the world of endurance sports then you either need to smash a record or you need to be the first. Zoë Romano first came into the spotlight in 2011 when she ran 2,867 miles - a short trip across the US! Not only is the run alone an incredible achievement but she was the first female to complete this journey without a support vehicle. Running unassisted on this formidable cross-country route she pushed a stroller with her belongings instead! She also raised thousands for a children's charity too.
In 2013, she raised ten times the amount by taking on an immense challenge - running the Tour de France. Taking nine weeks, Zoë paced through 2,000 miles with over 100,000 feet of elevation changes, across mountain ranges, on a course that was designed to be deliberately difficult for cyclists, let alone one woman and her feet! She is the first person to do so.
While you might not want to achieve international fame and go down in history as a top female endurance athlete, the achievements of these women can inspire you to reach your goals. What are you waiting for?