Aquarius 20, 2077, m249
With the start lights and broadcast of the starting gun, the first official Women’s program began for the Pathfinder Marathon.
In the prior years with only 4 nomadic settlements participating, there were never more than 25 runners in the mixed gender race; and even then, the contest was dominantly men.
Though there has been controversy over the decision to have separate races, it was welcome news to many would-be runners.
“I’m proud to be running in the first Women’s challenge.”, Elaine Nguyen of KMH said, “I’ve raced in the last two Pathfinders and I don’t get the problem. The rules are quite open for non-binary too; Adriana Wojick would have easily decided to compete in the Men’s program if she wanted.”
Pathfinder Officials have stated that there could be mixed challenges in the future, so this year is a bit of an experiment with respect to the mainstream promotion and Mars-Earth sponsorships.
“Our vision of Pathfinder is to branch out,” said Dr. Whyll Hokosan, chairman of the Pathfinder Marathon Organization (PMO), “Building on the tradition of Pathfinders of the past, we aim to showcase survival, track and field in an inclusive manner. This is a new chapter for the sporting event and we will make this as big as significant as the MAFL or the Earth Olympics”
Based on the data, the start of the Women’s race had lower engagement than the Men’s, but by late afternoon, there was twice the audience; consistent for both Mars and Earth.
Day-1 Women's Stage 1
Sara Hampton (San Olympus) took an early lead straight out of the gate, but 40 minutes into the race, she took a terrible spill. She lost the lead, but after calling in her drone for supplies and taping up her left ankle, she pressed on.
Unlike the Men’s race, where the pack broke apart very early, the Women stayed together far longer. It wasn’t until after the 3rd checkpoint when the terrain forced the group to split.
Hannah Chao (Huacheng) was the first casualty to Noctis Labryinthus. Misjudging the distance of a chasm, her jump was shy and she clipped her leg sending her tumbling. In addition to a badly bruised knee, her suit suffered enough damage to disqualify her.
Europa made another strong display in today's race. Gui Ying Fan and Anya Pande stayed in close proximity to each other, often swapping between 3rd and 4th position.
Elaine Nguyen (KMH) was in good form and held 1st position through the late afternoon. It wasn’t until she started to show signs of fatigue that Yasmina Philips (Marineris) made her move. In the final two hours of race-time, Phillips had worked a 5 km lead.
By the ‘stand down’ announcement at 19:30, Phillips was just 18 km behind Marshall Shannon’s (HDX) position just two day before in the Men's run.
There are 74 km ahead of Phillips to the finish and 55 km between her and the last position runner, Jasinder Lutsenko (Novymir).
The day closes with a strong pack ready to conquer Stage 1.