Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rebecca Rusch wins Leadville, gets 6 sentences at Velonews

Velonews has an article online this weekend covering the much hyped Leadville 100 race, which took place August 15. Of course, the focus of the article was on Lance Armstrong, Dave Wiens and a handful of the other top male finishers in the race. Armstrong's decision to target Leadville this year brought a lot of attention to the race. That's good for the Leadville 100 and it's good for mountain biking. The media shines it's bright lights on Mountain Biking rarely, and even more rarely (even in cycling circles) is there any substantial coverage of ultra distance racing.

So, don't get me wrong. I would never get may boxers up in a bunch and go online and diss Lance Armstrong like a lot of weekend warriors have been doing all summer on the intertubes. And as far as the Velonews piece that was posted on their website this weekend I don't want anybody to think I'm even criticizing the author. Like I said, any coverage is good coverage.

What irks me is the fact that the woman's race got barely even a mention. Following the typical cycling media report format, the article (as of today) contains 734 word and 22 paragraphs. 5 brief sentences AT THE BOTTOM of the story are dedicated to the fact that Rebecca Rusch won the women's race.

"Rebecca Rusch (Redbull-Specialized) won the women's race in about 8:15. It was the first Leadville for the two-time 24-hour solo world champion, and her win didn't come easy.

While the men's leaders got over the Columbine climb without too much bad weather, Rusch was stuck in a stingy sleet storm above treeline. Returning to lower elevations, she faced a stiff headwind much of the way back to Leadville.

Still, the Sun Valley, Idaho, resident praised the Leadville race for its friendly community and fellow racers.

"The whole vibe was great," she said. Having never raced or ridden the Leadville course, Rusch rode with a self-drawn map taped to her top tube, showing the major climbs.

She was not getting time splits on her position relative to the other women.

"I was pretending the guys were women and I got a scare near the end when I came up on a guy wearing pink," she said.

The headline in large red font at the top of the article reads "Armstrong Wins Leadville 100." In black much smaller font below the headline a second line reads "Rusch wins women's title." Shouldn't the headline be one line (all the same font size) that reads: "Armstrong and Rusch Win Leadville Titles!" Or better yet, how about "Rusch and Armstrong win Leadville Titles."

I have to give Rebecca some major props for that win. Rebecca is an ultra power house. She's won some huge races, including 24 Nationals and multiple 24 Hour world championships. She's raced all over the world. And she's a cool as hell person on top of all that. Plus, Rebecca had to beat Amanda Carey. Prior to the race I would have called it in favor of Amanda. Amanda had done Leadville before, and had been training on the Leadville course this summer. Unfortunately, anybody checking out the Velonews article wouldn't know any of that. Amanda's name doesn't even appear in the article.

Luckily, has a couple of paragraphs mentioning both women at the bottom of their Leadville Article:

"In the women’s race it was 2-time 24 Hour World Champion Rebecca Rusch (Specialized/Red Bull) taking the lead early. Unlike the men, Rusch opened up a gap early and held on throughout the 100-mile event.

Her chief rival, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Tomac/Hayes) suffered a flat tire in the opening miles of the race and she never fully recovered from the mechanical. Carey held the time gap steady at 14 minutes over the first 50 miles and even took some time back on the Columbine climb but that was the closest she would get to the leader.

The endurance specialist Rusch clearly had something left in the tank as she hammered her way back to the finish, eventually crossing the line at 8.14.53. Carey held onto the runner-up spot 26 minutes behind Rusch."

With all the media attention focused on Armstrong, it would be nice to introduce the thousands of people who might not have otherwise followed the goings on at Leadville to the fact that some very accomplished women also threw down on that infamous course yesterday. If all the coverage does is mention a guy we already know and admire, what good is all that attention for the other half of the pros at the race, the women who ride as hard and sacrifice just as much to be there? It seems like such a huge opportunity to introduce them with more than a few token words about the women's race.

When I run across the women's full results I'll post them below. In the mean time, good job Rebecca, Amanda and all the rest of the women who started the race yesterday. Some of us were checking the results all afternoon yesterday just to see how YOU did!


  1. Hey thanks for the great blog, the great mention and for sticking up for us women on the course! It was an honor to share the podium with Lance Armstrong, but i was also shocked at some of the coverage or lack of in the media. Your blog is the most information I've gotten about the women's race. I did not know until I read this about Amanda's flat, her training in Leadville or anything else having to do with the race that I took part in! Thanks again for the great words and for speaking up for us! I'll forgive you for betting against me at the start!
    Rebecca Rusch

  2. Good job, Rebecca. I see that Velonews this week updated their article slightly and did add a few more words regarding your race.

    Since there are so few women respective to men at these events I think many guys never even think about the inequitable media coverage. Patriarchy is second nature when you're on the paternal end of that stick.

    Prize money and all that aside, I think the cycling press should give credit where credit is due. Part of the media's responsibility is to provide fair coverage of these events, even if "the media" in this instance is a few web sites.

  3. Great article Scott... I read Rebecca's blog on occasion as well.

    Congrats on a tough tough event Rebecca...