“I don’t do long slow distance. Why run slow?”
These are the words of Michele Yates, national women’s 50-mile and 100K trail champion, but most interestingly — at least to me — the overall winner of last weekend’s Indy 100, as it’s being dubbed in the endurance running world.
You read that right: This race was won by a woman.
Our newspaper’s race coverage didn’t mention her gender, and neither did my post last week because when I initially read the results I thought Michele must be some funky French spelling of Michael. But I googled Yates as I was putting this week‘s newspaper column together and discovered this 30-year-old Colorado runner came to Indiana last week fully intending to win $25,000 for breaking the national woman’s 100-mile record of 14:57.
Yates finished 2.5 hours off her goal time — running in knee-deep water in temperatures that dipped into the 20s might have had something to do with that — but she still beat the nearest competitor, a guy, by nearly an hour.
Not bad for her first 100-mile finish, eh?
Is it unusual for a woman to win a 100-mile race? The men’s national record is faster than the women’s. But this article on endurance runner’s camp suggests that a higher percentage of women entrants finish 100-milers, perhaps because of their higher pain tolerance.
I wish I’d gotten a look at Yates in action. And maybe I did but just didn‘t know it, given the unique weather conditions and the lack of hoopla.
I do remember race director Mike Pffefferkorn talking about getting back to the finish line at some point so he could hand out an award to “our winner” — whom he referred to as a she — but at the time I thought he must’ve been talking about the 50-mile race. It just wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time that anybody — male or female — could be finishing the 100-mile event that fast.