I found an interesting article by Phil Hersh on the LA Times website where he ranks the top 10 female marathoners in history.
I highly encourage you to read his article and his reasoning.
His top 10 are:
1. Catherine Ndereba
2. Grete Waitz
3. Paula Radcliffe
4. Joan Benoit Samuelson
5. Rosa Mota
6. Lidia Simon
7. Katrin Dorre
8. Ingrid Kristiansen
9. Valentina Yegorova
10. Naoko Takahashi
What does everyone else think? I'd never really thought of who is the greatest but his article raises some interesting questions. The top 3 women seem to have flaws to their resumes as Joanie is the only won with the world record and Olympic gold medal.
While admitting it's basically an impossible task, particularly when you are comparing people from different eras, I think coming up with a top 10 for the women's marathon is seriously the perfect exercise.
On some level, I would say I have no problem arguing that Radcliffe is the greatest ever despite her Olympic failures as Ndereba has never won Olympic gold either. I mean her absolute performances are leaps above everyone else's.
But maybe I could be convinced othterwise.
It's too late (1:30 am) for me to really analyze this but I thought I'd get the discussion going.