2013 was a great year for women in sports and the outdoors! Here are some notable achievements that have inspired us this past year.
1. Diana Nyad Becomes the First Person to Swim from Cuba to Florida
When 64-year-old Diane Nyad finally completed her lifelong goal of swimming 110 miles from Cuba to Key West, Florida, the world cheered. She is the first person to swim this stretch without a protective shark cage. A symbol of tenancity and persistence, her September 2013 swim was her fifth attempt in 35 years. After swimming ashore, she said she wanted to show people that “you could dream at any age.”
2. Jessica Jerome and the First U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team Go to the Olympics
After fighting for nearly 12 years to get women’s ski jumping recognized as an Olympic sport, Jessica Jerome is set to represent the women’s ski jumping team in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Lindsey Van, Sarah Hendrickson, Alissa Johnson, Abby Hughes, Nina Lussi and Nita Englund are vying for the remaining spots on the team, which will be announced on January 22. World Champion jumper, Lindsey Van, said, “I’ve been jumping for almost 22 years now, so to finally be able to have the chance to compete in the Olympics is pretty damn cool. We’ve worked a long time, and it’s kind of time to enjoy the ride.” Thirty women ski jumpers from 15 countries will compete for medals in Sochi, Russia.
3. Heather Anderson, Thru-Hiker, Breaks Two Records on the Pacific Crest Trail
Thru-hiker, Heather Anderson, broke two records in 2013. Not only was she the fastest woman to hike the 2,655-mile PCT, but also the fastest person ever to hike it unsupported, finishing in a mere 60 days, 17 hours (smashing the previous record of 64 days, 11 hours). She lost the speed record to Josh Garrett, the vegan hiker funded by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, by only one day. However, Garret’s food was delivered to him on the trail; Heather had to make stops in towns along the way to replenish her supplies, which added an extra 30 miles to her journey. For more inspiration on long-distance hiking, check out author Gail Storey’s monthly column, The Making of a Thru-Hiker.
4. First Afghan Women’s Cycling Team Breaks Away
Women in Afghanistan are rarely able to safely leave their homes, let alone straddle a bike. In March 2013, three female Afghan cyclists participated in a their first major international race, The 33rd Annual Asian Cycling Championships in India. They are members of the Afghan National Cycling Federation, the only cycling club in Afghanistan to allow women to participate. Shannon Galpin, founder of the non-profit Mountain2Mountain is currently producing a film about the 11-member Women’s National Cycling Team in Afghanistan. Watch the trailer here.
5. Rebecca Rusch Continues her Reign as the Queen of Pain
In April 2013, famed endurance athlete, Rebecca Rusch, set a new female speed record on the Kokopelli Trail, linking Utah and Colorado, by mountain biking, unsupported, 142 miles in 13 hours and 32 minutes…all with no lights and a dislocated finger. She also “shared the pain” by launching her first annual gravel grinder, Rebecca’s Private Idaho, on Labor Day. The best part? She had over 40% female participation in this monster of a ride. (If you’ve ever participated in a typically male-dominated gravel ride, you’ll understand how impressive this number is). She even inspired me to take on the challenge, despite being overweight and out of shape. Read about my experience here.
Women are making inroads in winter sports. The first female bobsled event was added to the Winter Olympics in 2002; snowboardcross was added in 2006; skicross was added in 2010; and ski jumping is finally coming to the 2014 Winter Games (see above). But women continue to be underrepresented in big mountain, a.k.a extreme, skiing. Lynsey Dyer, a champion big mountain ripper wanted to change that. In 2013, she started shooting and compiling footage of female skiers for her landmark film Pretty Faces: The Story of a Skiergirl. However, Pretty Faces is not just ski-porn for women; Dyer wants to inspire girls to believe in their dreams. “If I can do this and step up to this mountain, what can I do in the rest of life?” she said. “The mountain doesn’t care how cute you are, how big your thighs are, none of that matters.” You can donate to the project, via kickstarter, here.
In September, British Adventurer, Sarah Outen, rowed 3,750 nautical miles from Japan to the Aleutian islands in Alaska. She is only person to ever row this route solo, and she did it in 150 days. Sarah is in the middle of her quest, called London2London, to circumnavigate the globe on foot, kayak, and bicycle. She’ll attempt crossing North America on bicycle in Spring 2014.
Never worry about helmet hair again! Developed by Swedish industrial designers, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, the Hövding “invisible” bike helmet is actually an airbag you wear around your neck. The airbag is contained in a collar that inflates upon impact (in a tenth of a second), making one of the safest, and definitely the most discrete helmets on the market. In a Swedish test, the airbag proved to be three times better at absorbing shock than at traditional bike helmet. Unfortunately, it’s not available in the U.S. yet.
9. Lara Prior-Palmer is the First Woman to Win the Mongol Derby
Wild horses couldn’t drag her away. Nineteen-year-old Brit, Lara Prior-Palmer rode 1,000 km (650 miles) in 10 days across the Mongolian Steppe to win the world’s toughest horse race: the Mongol Derby. She rode 13 hours a day for ten days straight through wind, rain, and injury. Read an interview about her experience here.
Not every woman is going to swim to Florida, row to Alaska, or hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail, but these women show us what is possible. Adventure is for everyone, regardless of gender, size, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. This past August, when I wrote my post, Adventure is Not Just for Sexy People, it became the most commented on story in our website’s history. At Women’s Adventure, we aim to inspire you to try new things–whether it’s an urban adventure in your own city or car camping at your state park.
Adventure is not a competition. Adventure is fun! Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey.
Who have we left out? Please add your nomination to the comments section.
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