More than just a pretty face
Claire, from New Jersey, loves Christmastime in Rockefeller Center. Regan is crazy for hip-hop and respects the Statue of Liberty "and all it stands for." Tiffany is a bartender who makes a kick-ass BLT sandwich.
Claire, Regan and Tiffany are "Prettygirls" with Prettygirl City Tours. And for the cost of some Chinese takeout, any man in NYC can rent one of them for a guided historical jogging tour. On the Prettygirl website, hormonal, athletically inclined visitors can browse through mini bios, select a route (ranging from the September 11 Memorial Tour to a Cupcake Bakery Tour) and learn helpful tidbits like "A jogging tour ... [is] something like a walking tour, but a little faster." Customers meet their Prettygirl at a predetermined stop, then take off on a sweaty exploration of the Big Apple.
Rather than rant about how Prettygirl City Tours is yet another embarrassing example of the relentless portrayal of female athletes as nothing more than Spandex-clad sex objects (lingerie football, anyone?), let's take this opportunity to instead concoct a dream list of our ultimate tour guides. If you could spend an hour running around NYC with an athlete, who would it be? A few ideas:
Paula Radcliffe: This hard-core pro marathoner won the 2007 New York City Marathon just nine months after giving birth to her daughter, Isla. While we're not worried she'd force us to cover 26.2 miles in 2:15:25 (such a feat would surely necessitate a Segway or a moped), her endurance and dedication are unbelievably motivating. We could be convinced to allow Amber Miller, who recently ran the Chicago Marathon at 39 weeks pregnant (and delivered hours later), to tag along, too.
Bethany Hamilton: She lost her left arm at the age of 13 to a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing in Kauai. One month later she was back in the ocean, and she hasn't stopped nabbing first place in national championships since. When a pesky cramp kicks in, threatening to ruin a run, what better inspiration to keep trucking could you ask for?
Diane Van Deren: I once called this Denver-based ultra-marathoner for an interview, only to have her husband nonchalantly explain, "Sorry, she's out pulling a sled across the Arctic Circle." In her early 50s, this charismatic North face athlete can outlast the entire espnW staff combined. A true survivor (in 1997, at age 37, she underwent a six-hour surgery to remove a kiwi-sized portion of her brain in an attempt to suppress her incapacitating epileptic seizures), this is who we want taking us on a guided 9/11 Memorial Tour -- not some Prettygirl named Trixie who likes hot mugs of cocoa and long walks on the beach.
Troy Polamalu: The Pittsburgh Steelers safety just seems like he'd be a blast as a workout buddy. And, we admit, we kind of want to watch his million-dollar locks bob and wave in the wind as he jog-guides us through 30 Rock.
Lolo Jones: Purely selfish -- my nickname is Lolo and the thought of two Lolos running through Chelsea together has me giddy with excitement. I'm sure the track and field star wouldn't mind if we were joined by WNBA standout Lisa Leslie, for the same reason.
Scout Bassett: I recently had the pleasure of interviewing this UCLA triathlete for an upcoming espnW story and was blown away by her story: Abandoned in front of a Chinese orphanage at age 1 with burn scars and a missing lower left leg, she has pushed herself to world-class-athlete status and now serves as a spokesperson for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, mentoring young would-be runners, bikers and swimmers. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have yelling at me to "Suck it up!" when I start feeling tired around Mile 3.
Dara Torres: She kicked more ass at age 41 than she did in her teens or 20s, racking up three medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics at a time when most women are snapping up mom jeans. Maybe our run could include a quick dip in the Hudson.
David Beckham: Sometimes I like to carboload with eye candy. Sue me.