Sunday was a pretty cool day for women’s endurance
racing. In Roth Germany, Britain’s
Chrissie Wellington shattered the women’s Ironman triathlon world record in a
time of 8:31:59 – an improvement of more than ten minutes faster than the previous
world’s best. Chrissie has been on a tear since her debut in IM racing in 2007,
winning every race she’s entered in that distance and twice claiming the World Championship title. At 32 years old, Chrissie is
about average age among top triathlon pros, but still older than the leading women
in more mainstream sports.

Triathlete Michellie Jones, a few months shy of her 40th
birthday, claimed victory as well today, crushing the women’s field at the
Rhode Island 70.3 Half Ironman. How inspirational to see this World Champion
and Olympic medalist lead the race from start to finish amidst multiple talented
young whippersnappers!

I truly believe that one of the most significant
factors in being a champion athlete is the wisdom gained from years of
experience. Of course, you need raw natural talent and the dedication and hard
work to hone that talent to its finest potential. But you also need a certain
mental and emotional maturity – to learn from your past experiences, to listen
to your body and to be tough as nails when the going gets rough.

I imagine there are any number of studies that
might back up this notion, but my claim is based on a purely non-scientific method
of calling it as I see it. There are numerous examples of women, well past what
might be considered their athletic prime, socking it to their youthful
challengers. Consider Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, who won three silver medals
at the age of 41, and who sports 6-pack abs to die for! And of course, last
summer we witnessed 38-year-old Constantina Tomescu-Dita run to a gold medal
victory in the women’s marathon in Beijing.

As a 41-year-old athlete, I have days where I
wonder if I’m getting too old for the training and racing that I love so much. But
my doubts are short-lived – all I need is to look to these amazing women for
inspiration, and I realize that my own athletic adventures have only just

– Holly Bennett