Earlier this week, a local runner rightly called me out on the lack of gender equity in my coverage of the Boston Marathon.
I’ve known and respected Juli Kaufmann for years. She’s a business owner and a community activist, and someone with the integrity to use her own name when she posts comments to stories on JSOnline.
When she wrote, “Hey Tom, did any Wisconsin women run the marathon and warrant a finish time mention too?” she sent me a justified nudge, especially in the same week that the running world mourned the First Lady of the Marathon, Grete Waitz.
When Waitz won the first of her nine New York City Marathons, in 1978, women accounted for about 10% of the total marathon finishers in the country. They now make up more than 40% of the marathon finishers, 60% of the runners in half-marathons, and their enthusiasm for the sport has led a resurgence across the country.
In the Boston Marathon, Sarah Bashinski-Flament was one woman from Wisconsin who put on a performance that certainly warranted attention.
The Wausau native ran a personal best 2:43:37, finished 26th overall (the 12th American female) and qualified to run in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston in January.
An All-American at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse in 1997, Bashinski-Flament retired from competitive running for about a decade to pursue a career and start a family in Ohio. She returned to racing in 1998, and posted personal bests in everything from the 5K to the marathon, including a 2:46:01 in the 2009 USA Marathon Championship.
The run in Boston was another return, from a hip injury that sidelined her for much of 2010.
Days before the race, the 35-year-old posted this message to the marathon:
“I AM saying that I go into this battle on Monday knowing I will hurt yet will keep on pushing because I appreciate you and will love that I am even in your presence. So you may chew me up and spit me out…but I’m coming back for more! No expectations, no times, no places. Just you and me… mile for mile…glorious minute by glorious minute. Because I will be running injury free. And that all by itself is more than any accomplishment I could acquire in my lifetime. And that is why this coming Monday, I already know that you will be my favorite marathon!”
A few other performances that I should have noted:
Emily Herzog, of Madison (2:55:10) and Meghan Roth, of Prescott (2:57:32) finished in the top 100 women. Mary Palmer, of Eau Claire, had a near miss on three hours, finishing in 3:00:12.
And the 2006 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon winner, Rebecca Suehring, of Janesville, ran a 3:18:40.
Congratulations to them, and all the runners who kept on pushing.