By George Mason University Professor, Gretchen Carlson via FOXNews.com
Hundreds of people ran down the center of Colorado Boulevard over the weekend. They run marathons, half marathons, you name it. But one woman broke two world records: the most times one woman ran down a 600-foot street in less than an hour, and fastest time by a woman in a 100-by-100 foot finish line.
Her name is Jean Shepard, and she was just 43 years old. She even managed to outrun the record set by another woman from Utah, who only completed her run in 60 seconds. Shepard’s time was, more than, 85 seconds!
Obviously, she broke the world record by running 40 times faster than everyone else ever has, but really, what’s remarkable is that she accomplished her feat in a much more athletic way than anyone I’ve ever met in my lifetime.
Her marathon was part of the High Desert 200, an annual three-day running event known as the “Greatest Weekend in Running” in Colorado. Organizers and race organizers say the goal of this running event is to produce fun and injury-free competition without cutting corners and paying reckless attention to results. They do this by making sure each race has a “No Negotiation Zone” in which competitors face each other with nothing to do but run.
The contestants can’t run, hit the streets, or talk to each other at all.
Participants run without training or nutrition, and they run at a pace that they’re not worried about breaking. On the occasions that they do get off the straight and narrow path, they can stick with whatever pace they’re running and get the results they’re looking for. If it’s not fast enough, they can retrace their steps and start all over again.
There’s no strict time limit, and no minimum marathon length—the rules are flexible. After finishing a 200-meter time trial to start, competitors are allowed to run up to 100 meters for re-checking their times. There’s no age limit and participants can run in a lot of different ways—long, short, straight, with their feet together, walking at a fast pace, walking with their legs spread apart, with legs together, with one foot forward and one foot back.
For whatever reason, human physiology isn’t subject to being challenged. So far, it seems, it’s willing to give athletes pretty much what they want, as long as they know exactly what that is.
Shepard was clearly planning on taking down the records. Yet, she jumped at the chance to record a new one. Again, there are no official time-tracking measures, so it could be argued that she actually finished even faster than her 82-second time—that she actually broke the world record by a couple of seconds.
The media is paying more attention to these “world records” than I’ve ever seen, and more and more participants are in on the act. I think that’s great. Taking the concept of competitive endurance to its logical end, the world record of an athlete should be everything that it should be: unchallenged, unbroken, unchallenged, unbroken, unchallenged, unchallenged.
You should never have to worry about breaking a world record in any given competition.
I hope Jean Shepard keeps breaking records in every and any competition she comes across. She’s already done something amazing and I hope her time in the record books will spur more young women to come out, take up the challenge of running, and give women the opportunity to reach their best potential, for themselves and for society.
Finally, I hope you finish as proud of Jean Shepard as I am of her. In her marathon race on Sunday, she displayed just how determined she is to be the best that she can be. She seems to take her determination seriously. It’s admirable.
George Mason University
This article is an excerpt from a daily column from professor Gretchen Carlson, which appears on FOXNews.com.
Go to FoxNews.com/GretchenCarlson to read her complete commentary.