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Laz Lake’s formula for gender differences in ultrarunning

Lazarus Lake has announced how he will calculate for gender differences at his Strolling Jim 40-miler

Lazarus Lake

On May 4, 2019 Lazarus Lake will host the 41st year of the Strolling Jim 41.2-miler in Wartrace, Tenn. This year, there is a $5,000 cash prize for any runner who breaks the course record. The prize is open to both male and female runners. In order for a female to win the cash, they needed to break the male record. Initially, there was no equal prize if the female course record was broken. Until recently, when Laz updated his policy:   

RELATED: Laz Lake thinks Jasmin Paris could become first-ever female finisher of Barkley Marathons


The formula: 112%

In 1991, Andy Jones ran the fastest 40-mile at the event in 3:59:26. In 2011, Leah Thorvilson set the female record in 4:44:49.  In 2015, Scott Breeden ran the third fasted “Jim” in 25 years with 4:14:30. Since 2015, Laz has put $1,000 into the purse for each year the record is not broken. If a runner breaks Jones-Wilkins’ record, they will be awarded $5,000 for the 2019 race. On February 28, 2019, Laz explained his updated policies for the Strolling Jim: 

“women at the strolling jim, take note!

for the past 5 years we have had a prize for a new course record.
we started at $1,000
and each year it went unclaimed,
we have added another $1,000

this year the award hits $5,000

it will not be an easy 5 grand.
the record was set by the fastest 40 miler in history
andy jones (3:45:39)

his 40 mile split at the jim was just under 3:52.

out there on the hills of bedford county,
this is genuine running.

to my surprise we have not received any complaints about gender equity.
if we had, i would have just said it was open to women as well
(smiley face)
so, instead, we have been considering that the fastest women should have an equal prize…

for an equal achievement.

our women’s record (4:44:50 by leah thorvilson) is a dam proud mark.
but not the sort of world record calibre run as andy’s.

so we have been doing the math.
comparing womens and mens world running records at every distance.
we came up with an average of women’s records being 112% of mens.
and this falls in the same range for the ultra distances
most ultra records are significantly more than that,
but the 100k mark at 106% brings the average back in line.
that is actually the closest mens and womens records at any distance.

so here is what we are looking to do.
112% of andy’s record is 4:28:09

if a woman can beat that mark,
she can grab the same $5,000 prize as the men.
it ought to be easy.
men have broken that mark 14 times!”


RELATED: Can’t get into the Barkley? Consider another Laz Lake ultra


Camille Herron, 100-mile world record holder on a track, replied to Laz’s idea commenting, “No, it’s way beyond my 50-mile World Record pace. Not happening.”


There are more than cash prizes for runners at the Strolling Jim. The coloured shirts are also a big hit. They are based on excellent finishing times and display the runner’s achievement on the back. i.e. Red Strolling Jim Shirt with SUB 7. For example, if a runner finishes a marathon in less than three hours, they are awarded a SUB 3 shirt in gold. 

The event is the official RRCA Championship for the United States Southern Region in ultra distance. The Road Runners Club of America has established four categories of winners. Open division, masters (40+), grand masters (50+), and senior grand masters (60+). The first male and female finishers in each category will be the winner.

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