Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Women faster than men in races longer than 195 miles: Study

- Rudraneil Sengupta

The gap in performanc­e between men and women is visible across most sports. The world record for women in the 100m sprint, for example, is handily beaten even by the under-18 men’s record for the same distance. In running, though, this gap reduces as the race distance increases. The smallest difference in performanc­e between men and women in running events at the Olympics occurs in the marathon.

A new study now shows that if you take that trend and explore the most extreme endurance events in the world, the gender gap not only keeps narrowing, but even reverses.

“The state of ultra-running 2020” looked at the results of over 5 million finishers from over 15,000 races from 1996 to 2018, and found that female ultra-runational ners are actually faster in races that were over 195 miles. The study, which only looked at recrerunne­rs, found a clear relation between distance and the gender pace gap. In 5K runs, for example, men run 17.9% faster than women, but in marathons the difference comes down to 11.1%. In 100-mile (160.9km) races, that difference shrinks further, to 0.25%. Go above 195 miles, and “women are actually 0.6% faster than men”, the report says.

“We are not saying individual women are faster than individual men, but we have seen a few races lately with women overall winners and that’s really exciting news,” said Paul Ronto, an American ultra-runner and one of the authors of the study.

The reasons, he said, could be a higher tolerance for pain (research shows that women endure pain better) and more than one study has also shown that glycogen (the primary form in which glucose is stored in the human body) depletes faster for men than for women.

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