Support Jennifer Pharr Davis as She Blazes New Paths

[Editor’s Note: Today is the final day of Women’s History Month in 2021! For the last seven days of March, we’ve highlighted seven stories of women moving the needle forward in trail running and ultrarunning. Each article offers you a way to take action and elevate the women who make up our community. Let’s celebrate!]

Ten years ago this summer, Jennifer Pharr Davis set the women’s supported Appalachian Trail fastest known time. She traveled southbound on the 2,189-mile trail which spans the eastern United States between Maine to Georgia in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes. For that incredible performance, she was named National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year and UltraRunning Magazine’s Women’s Performance of the Year in 2011. Jennifer’s record still stands.

Jennifer continues to blaze her own path, both on and off the trail. This has included starting her own business, the Blue Ridge Hiking Company, which guides day hikes, backpacking trips, and generally helps people get their feet on the trail. She’s an author of eight books, including Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail, where she writes in memoir style about life, love, and just plain adventuring in the woods. She’s also a professional speaker, to businesses and organizations of all kinds. Her TedX talk shows her incredible public-speaking talent. She’s also a mom of two kids, each of whom she’s brought onto the trail since they were born. Her website is a great place to learn much more about all Jennifer does.

The theme that resonates through all of this is innovation, not only in carving a path for herself but for the women who come next on the trail. Jennifer’s work has created space for all of us trail and ultrarunning women to pursue our own innovative paths in athletics, authorship, entrepreneurship, and so much more. Trailblazing for one’s self and for all women who follow: that’s an idea we hope you’ll get behind! So, consider supporting Jennifer by purchasing one of her books, patronizing the Blue Ridge Hiking Company, or hiring her as a speaker for your organization!

Finally, here’s a super-fun throwback to our interview with Jennifer four days after her 2011 women’s supported Appalachian Trail fastest known time.

Jennifer Pharr Davis - 2011 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year

Image courtesy of Jennifer Pharr Davis.

Meghan Hicks

is the Managing Editor of iRunFar and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 2 comments

    1. Meghan Hicks

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the comment and feedback. As the author of this article, I considered using this context here (and have talked about Jennifer’s record and other female performances over the years using the context of how they compared to male performances) and ultimately decided against it. My mindset here is shifting and growing, and your feedback and this article about Jennifer catch me in a place of learning and listening.

      I am currently working within the mindset of contextualizing female performances in their own right and without comparing them to male performances. The fact that Jenn’s female record has stood for almost a decade—even as numerous females have tried to break it and as increasing female participation in ultrarunning and thruhiking have increased the sports’ competitive levels—in my mind offers rich context on how great her effort was and is without comparing it to male performances.

      I really appreciate what Ruth Croft wrote about this idea in February after she won the 2021 Tarawera 100k outright and many news sources seemed to have a greater interest in the fact that her performance was better than any of the males in the male race than in how well she raced in the female race. Here’s her social media post: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLRF__eHu1u/. I am trying to mirror her thoughts here, to valuate and celebrate female performance in the context of what other females do and to not pass female performance through the lens of male performance.

      Thank you again for the comment and feedback. I hope this helps to explain my thinking on how I chose to contextualize Jennifer’s record.

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