How would you go about ranking the world’s top athletes, across multiple sports, in terms of their overall fitness? Within our own sport, it would be difficult enough to compare the fitness of sprinters, middle distance runners, marathoners and ultramarathoners, but Sports Illustrated has been taking on the entire sporting world every year since 2014 with its Fittest 50 list.
The 2019 version, which ranks the 25 fittest men and 25 fittest women, has just come out, and it’s fascinating to see how the runners on the list stack up against athletes in other sports and against each other. (It’s also fascinating that only two men–Eliud Kipchoge and Jim Walmsley–were deemed fit enough for the list, while six women made the cut.)
Just so you know, #1 on the women’s list is American gymnast Simone Biles, and #1 on the men’s list is New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley.
Here’s a look at the runners on the list and SI’s take on them. (Plus a few of our comments where it seemed warranted.)
#4: British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith. “Just 23 years old, British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith finished 2018 as the European champion and world leader in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter races. In order to increase her power and explosiveness on the track, Asher-Smith doesn’t lift heavy weights, instead sticking to core strengthening and single-leg stability work—and plenty of grueling track workouts, of course.” Of course!
#5: Olympic gold-medallist in the triathlon-turned-marathoner Gwen Jorgensen. “After becoming the first American to win a gold medal in the Olympic triathlon, Gwen Jorgensen decided to leave the sport—and her place as one of the world’s top triathletes—to pursue a new one: the marathon. Following the birth of her child in 2017, 32-year-old Jorgensen declared that her new goal was to win a gold medal in the Olympic marathon in ’20, and so far, she’s seen positive results in the 26.2 distance.”
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Wait for it…When internal/external banded hip rotators turn into stanky leg/wacky waving inflatable arm tube man arms. (Its a real dance move, trust me 😂😂😂) #emmaminibands #stankyleg #wackywavinginflatablearmflailingtubeman #dancingnotrequired (Ariana Grande: breathin. Shop bands in bio. Dance lesson not included 🙈)
#9: 2017 world steeplechase champion and former American record-holder Emma Coburn. “Despite losing her American record to Courtney Frerichs in 2018, Coburn beat her younger compatriot three times and continues to be the face of American steeplechase, winning seven national titles since ’11. In her training for a middle distance event with one water jump and four barriers per lap, Coburn logs miles and completes a host of core and mobility exercises using resistance bands.”
#12: Overall winner of the 2017 Moab 240 and first female at the 2018 Western States Endurance Run Courtney Dauwalter. “Colorado native and full-time science teacher Courtney Dauwalter specializes in extreme endurance events, the ultimate test of stamina, strength and spirit. In 2017, Dauwalter won the Moab 240 outright, finishing the 238-mile race in 58 hours, an incredible 10 hours ahead of the next competitor, male or female.” We’re pretty sure Sean Nakamura is a man.
#13: Multiple Olympic and world championship gold medallist in the 800m Caster Semenya. “In 2018 in the 800 meters, Caster Semenya amassed a 9-0 record and ran the fourth-, sixth- and eighth-fastest times in history, while also putting up impressive times in the 1,500 meters. The South African runner is consistently dominant, but because of her hyperandrogenism, she also stirs up controversy. Semenya was left off the 2018 IAAF Athlete of the Year short list; she is now challenging the governing body on their new regulations for athletes with the condition.”
#14: 2018 New York Marathon champion and women-only marathon world record-holder Mary Keitany. “The world record-holder in a women-only marathon with a 2017 London Marathon time of 2:17:01, 36-year-old Kenyan Mary Keitany has dominated distance running for nearly a decade. In 2018, she added a fourth New York Marathon title to her résumé, recording the second-fastest time in the race’s history and just 17 seconds off the course record.”
#21: Marathon world record-holder and current Berlin and London marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge. “The 34-year-old Kenyan cemented his place as the greatest marathoner of all time in 2018, crushing the world record by one minute and 18 seconds with his 2:01:39 finish at the Berlin Marathon. While the feat further proved his dominance in the 26.2-mile distance, Kipchoge isn’t done yet—he plans to continue constructing his 5’6”, 115-pound body into an even finer-tuned marathon machine.” Indeed. We may be biased, but ranking Kipchoge #21 seems to us incomprehensible.
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This was one of the greatest days I’ve ever had in The Grand Canyon. The whole process to prepare for this Fastest Known Time of the Bass Trail was such a great experience and truly embodies what FKTs are all about. William Bass first started using this route to reach Mystic Springs in the 1880s, which he learned about from the Havasupai. He soon started to create a web of over 50 miles of trails in the Grand Canyon over the next 40 years. Many of those miles of trails are on what we now know as the Bass Trail, about 30 miles west of the Grand Canyon National Park. The Bass Trail was the first trail to traverse the Canyon and it is one of only two trails that fully traverse the great range of the Canyon. Unlike the Kaibab Trail, which has the Black Bridge that was built in 1928, the Bass Trail has no bridge and must be crossed by raft, or in our case, by swimming across the Colorado River which was flowing about 15,000 cfs!!! The water of the Colorado River is a pretty consistent temperature year round, around 50F because it is released from the bottom of the Glen Canyon Dam. This trip, we laid eyes for the first time on Bass Camp, Shinumo Creek, Shinumo Amphitheater, and see how the North Bass Trail connects to the North Rim’s incredible Esplanade, a massive red rock layer inside the Canyon. A mile past Muav Saddle, we hit Swamp Point where we could see Humphrey’s Peak in Flagstaff one direction and the other way we could see over the Esplanade into Deer Falls, Thunder River, and the five points of the North Rim’s Rainbow Rim Trail. Talk about an ah-ha moment! The Grand Canyon is truly a great wonder of the world and we are so lucky to call it home. #thecanyonmakescowboys Check out Eric Senseman’s write up of our epic day out, by clicking the link in my bio. The Bass Trail FKT with @coconinocowboys @sensemagram and @frerikstim has opened up new possibilities!!!💥💥🤠 Thanks to @jamilcoury for 📸 and @squirrels_nut_butter Chris Thornley for scoping the Colorado River for us 👌 Thanks to Buzz Burrell, Peter Bakwin, and Charles Corfield for dreaming up this amazing route! #timetofly #werunwithyou #feedyouradventure
#23: 2018 Western States Endurance Run champion and course record-holder Jim Walmsley. “What would it take for you to run more than 4,000 miles in a year? It’s standard for trail- and ultra-runner Jim Walmsley, who surpassed that mark on Strava in 2018 in his training for several top finishes, including a course-record 14 hours, 30 minutes at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (the Super Bowl of ultrarunning) in June. Walmsley customizes his diet in order to fuel his body for the ultra distances and training for various terrains and trails.” Is WSER really the Super Bowl of ultrarunning? And if yearly mileage is the criterion, someone needs to tell them about Pete Kostelnick, who ran 10,000 miles in 2018.