The marathon, or 26.2 miles, if you prefer. In this division, we have the women who have made their mark on perhaps the most iconic distance in all of sport.
Famed University of Oregon coach Bill Dellinger once said, “”Good things come slow – especially in distance running,” but there’s nothing slow about this group of ladies.
So who was victorious in the first round of competition?
The marathoners’ bracket was home to the only blowout of the first round, where in the battle of Olympic champions, Joan Benoit Samuelson got 100% of the vote over also-ran Rosa Mota. Wow! Catherine The Great’s margin of victory was also pretty decisive, moving past Nuta Olaru with 91% of the votes. The closest match up in the first round of our 26.2 division was that of Dire Tune and Lisa Ondieki; Ethiopian Tune scored the majority, with 59%. (Full marathon first round results)
Who will persevere in the second round of marathon competition?
Paula Radcliffe vs. Deena Kastor
Paula Radcliffe is the current world record holder with her 2:15:25. Besides being blazing fast, she gave all mother runners hope when she won the New York City Marathon just months after delivering her first child.
We all know Deena Kastor for her amazingly patient performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics where she won bronze. She also owns the American marathon record with the 2:19:36 she ran in the 2006 London marathon. She also owns the American half marathon record as well as the road 15k, 8k and 5k records.
Mizuki Noguchi vs. Catherine Ndereba
Mizuki Noguchi is the 2004 gold medalist marathoner and previously set two world records. Her PR of 2:19:12 is still the Asian marathon record. She also held the 25k world record for a few years.
“Catherine the Great” as she is widely known is definitely one of the world’s best. If we seeded this competition, she’d probably be seeded #1! Two-time World Champion, two-time Olympic silver medalist and four time Boston Marathon winner, Catherine Ndereba was a force to be reckoned with. In 2001, she set the world record with her 2:18:47 run in Chicago. She is tied for the record of most marathons run under 2:30 with 21!
Ingrid Kristiansen vs. Mary Keitany
Kristiansen started her career unremarkably, but after giving birth, she started to improve! She placed 4th in the first Olympic marathon and was the first athlete to win World titles on all three surfaces. In 1985, she won the London Marathon and set a world record in the process. Her time of 2:21:06 stood for 13 years.
Mary Keitany is the third-fastest woman EVER to run 26.2 miles, boasting a very impressive PR of 2:18:37…. and she’s only been running the distance since November 2010. Her marathon debut at New York 2010 included a third-place finish and time of 2:29:01. You know, NBD.
Joan Benoit Samuelson vs. Dire Tune
“Joanie” was the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon champ, has qualified for seven Olympic Trials and held the American record in the marathon for 18 (!) years. Oh yeah, and her times at the Olympics and the Chicago Marathon are still the fastest for American women in those respective races. Did we mention that she ran her first Olympic Trials marathon just 17 days after knee surgery?
Ethiopian great Dire Tune is yet another Boston winner in this bunch, breaking the tape in 2008. She came in second at Boston in 2009 collapsing at the finish line. Besides her Boston achievements, she holds the one hour running world record and holds the Ethiopian half marathon record (1:07:19).