Mid-week musings. Who is the greatest of all time?
Posted: Mar 05 2014
We got lucky with the location of the Coeur office.
It’s in a very hip area of Santa Monica, California and we can count Bonk Breakers, Yoga Glow film studios and even a training center for classical musicians as neighbors. On Sunday afternoons, the classical musicians train and incredible notes from violins can be heard in the distance. Despite being in Santa Monica, the office park is quiet on Sundays and the music is magical. But I digress.
The office came with a photography studio and enough open space to put in our sublimation heat presses a couple of printers, a sofa and importantly (at least to this story) a wine cooler.
More than one late evening has found the Coeur team plopped down on the sofa where invariably, someone says…”smidgeon?” while pointing toward the wine cooler and simultaneously making a hand gesture that symbolizes having a drink. And more often than not, a bottle of wine is opened and we invariably begin talking about matters that range from the meaningless to the sublime.
I’m not sure where on that spectrum this falls but recently the question of “greatness” came up. Not about Coeur (even though we strive for it), rather about female athletes. Specifically, who is the greatest female endurance athlete in history?
Now before we get started, I’ll just have to acknowledge that…”we get it”. By “it” we mean that we get the fact that it is impossible to compare across generations even in the same sport. The training was different, travel was harder, our knowledge of nutrition has improved, better gear, etc. etc. So if you can’t even compare by sport, how on earth is someone expected to compare across sports, even if they are all under the endurance sports umbrella?
All of that notwithstanding, the question was still out there? Who is the greatest female endurance athlete of all time?
Is it Paula Radcliffe who had a smoking marathon PR of 2:15:25? Or Diana Nyad who swam through the night, the swells of the ocean and the jelly fish when she went from Cuba to Florida? Do you happen to know the name Pam Reed? No? She won the Badwater Ultra-Marathon. Outright. As in beat everyone. All of em...men, women, children. Beat them all.
What about Jeannie Longo? She was the cycling world champion 13 times!
Perhaps it’s Paula Newby-Fraser who won Kona eight times. And of course, there’s Chrissie Wellington. She only won Kona four times compared to Newby-Fraser’s eight but she was never beaten at the 140.6 distance. Can you hold it against her that she retired early to pursue other challenges???
Maybe you can, maybe you can’t? And that’s the beauty of this type of debate. In our opinion, it’s more about the journey than the destination. So, we had the debate. We went back and forth about what should count toward greatness and what shouldn’t. We agreed on some things and disagreed on others. In the end, we all agreed that it was enormously fun to have the discussion (and the wine).
So now, we’d love to hear from you. Wine is optional but, in your opinion, who is….
The Greatest Female Endurance Athlete of All Time???