Women of Endurance

Pedestriennes, Marathoners, Ultramarathoners, and Others: Two Centuries of Women’s Endurance (1816-1996)

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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For two centuries, women and girls have performed extraordinary feats of endurance with limited notice. Women’s individual achievements have included walking for a month with less than 10 or 15 minutes continuous rest, walking and running more than 400 miles in six consecutive days, and defeating all men contestants in endurance competitions. Ideally, these achievements should have shattered the myths of female frailty and allowed more women to participate in and manage endurance events. However, women’s endurance has often been reduced, marginalized or exploited. Using post-modern historical analysis of 1000 printed sources, the author focuses on 19th century women’s professional endurance efforts, and also shows that marginalization and exploitation of women’s endurance continues into the 21st century.

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