|Photos by Vitek Ludwig|
Women can compete on equal terms with the guys. That’s the inspiring message brought home by Dawn Westrum (USA2), one of two women to compete in the world’s toughest adventure race for the first time in 10 years.
Westrum may have been eliminated at 06:00 this morning as the last-ranked athlete, with 375km still to go, but she has surpassed expectations, not least her own.
“I’m not even disappointed. I never thought I’d get this far. I had a great race and got further than I thought I’d ever go.”
During one two-day period, which included a non-stop spell through the night, Westrum hiked 115km, a quarter of the total distance she covered on foot.
Race Director Christoph Weber was among the first to celebrate her achievement: “She's proved that she can hike hard and make intelligent decisions in the air and that women can be really strong in this race.”
What makes her achievement all the more remarkable is that Westrum, a former US soldier, has only been flying six years. But what she lacked in experience, she more than made up for in determination and spirit.
“I kept pushing my goals,” she said. “I had been thinking, ‘maybe I get to Germany, maybe I get to Italy,’ but I just kept on going.” Westrum eventually reached Turnpoint 7, the Matterhorn. The last two days saw her finish in style as she enjoyed epic flights over Switzerland, including a 100km flight over the Tessin mountains.
“After Gerald Gold (AUT2) overtook me I just thought, 'you know what, this is my last day, I'm not racing,’ so I flew over the Aletsch Glacier. It was so beautiful and I just hung out there, cruising along. It was the perfect ending to a great race,” she said