My problem with women-only races is not the ‘women-only’ part

Nope.

The last time I did a women’s race was the 2011 Iron Girl half-marathon in Clearwater, and by the time I crossed the finish line, I swore never again.  I had paid a considerable amount of money just to race as it was, but then the pre-race transportation was badly organized, which meant I was stepping off the trolley to the starting line more than seven minutes after the race started.  I didn’t get to stretch or go to the bathroom or warm-up or anything, so I was already in a right state by the time I started. I was already teetering on the edge of reasonableness but then all of the cutesy girly shit that characterizes the Iron Girl franchise pushed me right over into the land of “fuck this fucking shit.”

It was the third women-only race I’d done in two years.  I had also done the Women’s Running Half Marathon in St. Petersburg, which was another race I found exorbitantly priced and more than just a tad bit annoying, and another Iron Girl race.  Not even the fact that I got to meet Kathrine Switzer at the Women’s Running expo could make up for the things I disliked about the race.  I decided that women’s races just weren’t for me, and I haven’t done one since.

But then a couple of months ago I got an email about a race that would have seriously made me reconsider my “no women-only races” rule had it not been so far away.  On June 1, the Thelma and Louise Half-Marathon will be held in Canyonlands National Park.

Okay, let that sit for a second.  A Thelma and Louise Half-Marathon.  A half-marathon dedicated to one of the most ass-kicking movies of the 1990s, in which the women shoot a rapist and ditch one of the women’s shitty, domineering husbands and go tearing off on a cross-country crime spree and have dirty hotel sex with a deliciously hot, young Brad Pitt.  If you have never seen this movie, I insist you step away from this blog post and do not come back until you have seen this movie and can appreciate just how insane it was that such an overtly feminist movie could have ever been so mainstream (but then, I suppose, that was the 1990s for you).

Yes, please!

If I still lived in Utah…shoot, if I lived even one time zone away from Utah, I would have signed up for this race faster than a ’66 Thunderbird could fly through the sky before crash-landing at the bottom of a canyon.

My enthusiasm for this race clearly illustrated for me that it wasn’t the “women-only” aspect of most women’s races that I had problems with.  I’ll admit that part of me disliked the idea that women needed to be coddled and cajoled into doing something athletic by having their own super-speshul races, far from all the scary boys and men, but the truth is, being surrounded by thousands of women was actually one of the things I dug most about doing the women’s races.

No, it was everything else about the races that left me feeling like the human embodiment of Feminist Hulk.  It was the insistence on referring to everyone as “girls.”  It was the cookies and the pink shopping bags and the pink swag and the pink pink pink everything everywhere was PINK.  (And I say this as a woman who actually really likes pink a whole lot. I just hate the idea that because I am a woman, I must lurve the color passionately and want everything I own to be pink.)  It was the vague sense that I was being condescended to, like I was some kind of delicate little princess who needed to be praised and told how special I was and how empowered I am by everything I do.

The version of womanhood being catered to was nothing like womanhood as I experienced it.  Where was all of the badassery?  The toughness?  The courage and the fierceness?  Did this collection of living-”Cathy” stereotypes really describe the only way the race organizers could envision femininity?

And the more I saw of women-only races, the more I felt like the organizers were operating off some really limited definitions of what it meant to be a woman.  Take the Nike Women’s Marathon, which touts firefighters giving Tiffany jewelry to finishers in lieu of medals.  Now, I like firefighters and I like jewelry (and truth be told, if I were to do that race that would probably be the only way I’d ever own something that came in that famous robins-egg blue box), but, as Courtney Szto pointed out, the assumption that every single woman alive is going to swoon for this to be rather heteronormative. As you know, not all women like men, a fact that I would have thought a race in San Francisco of all places would have been fully aware of.

And I have seen women-only races that include mentions of chocolate and champagne in their marketing materials, and that use vaguely suggestive titles like “Dirty Girl,” and that brag about having boa-and-tiara stations, or even an event that calls itself the “Jiggle Butt” race.  Shopping features heavily in the marketing, as does jewelry and princess and divas and high heels and a ton of other things that I just don’t relate to at all.

The Thelma and Louise Half-Marathon was the first time I encountered a women-only race with a concept and theme that made me feel like, hey, there might actually be a place for a woman like me at one of these things.

Obviously I know that just because something doesn’t appeal to me, that this doesn’t necessarily mean it will appeal to no woman anywhere.  On the contrary, I am aware that a lot of women love these races and are signing up for them, which is why they are proliferating like sparkly viruses.  And I also know that there are women out there who do love jewelry and princesses and tiaras and chocolate and that for them, this does not contradict their views of themselves as strong, capable, complex women.  And I also know that there are a lot of women out there who hate all of this stuff, but they do the races anyway for a variety of reasons: it fits with their training schedule, they want to run with their friends and family members, it’s local, whatever.

But for me, it all boils down to one simple thing, which is that I dislike the fact that the women-only racing community seems to have en masse decided to create an image of womanhood using the broadest sitcom-style stereotypes of frivolity and consumerism, then to exclusively cater to that image without seeming to consider the possibility that a lot of women – like, uh, me – find the pink-princess-shopping-champagne-diva stuff rather alienating.

I want more women to feel comfortable enough to get out and race, but is this really the way to do it?  (Evidently road-racing isn’t the only sport whose gender-specific marketing has left some, in the words of Sam, a bit “queasy.”  Check out her post about Cupcake Races and Heels on Wheels in cycling, in which she brings up some of the same issues I talk about here, except she does so in her very scholarly, smarty-pants way.  Oh, and read Tracy’s post about why she doesn’t think women-only races are inherently sexist, too.  Good stuff as usual from these two.)  Surely there has to be a way to organize women-only races that isn’t based upon lowest-common-denominator stereotypes ripped from the pages of Cosmo.

What do you think about women-only races?  I know y’all have opinions, because a few of you have asked me to write about this in the past. Spill ‘em in the comments below. 

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52 responses to “My problem with women-only races is not the ‘women-only’ part

  1. Yes, yes and yes! I read a recap of one of those the other day and I nearly threw up rainbows and ponies.

    I’m glad we don’t really have that sort of targeted event down here in NZ because I’m always tempted to enter events, regardless, but I’d want to tell them where to put their tiaras.

    I really wouldn’t mind running the Nike Women’s Half in DC one day because it’d be a great way to do some sightseeing in DC, I guess, but the whole Tiffany box thing annoys me and apparently the firefighters are shirtless and if I wanted to see something like that, I don’t think DC would be the place I’d be flying to.

    Also, I’d love to run the hell out of that Thelma & Louise half marathon!

  2. I think women only races are a great way to get women involved in sport, especially if they have not been involved previously. It’s less pressure, typically, more low-key, not so focused on winning, focused more on participating. My very first triathlon was a Danskin women-only one (many, many moons, ago), and I probably wouldn’t have tried it if it was co-ed. However, I soon ventured out to co-ed races, and have found them better for me: like you I don’t like the heavy shopping pink princess marketing crap, and the vibe is (generally) more competitive. Recently, I have been doing ultrarunning races, and the vibe is great – competitive, but super-friendly – right up my alley!

    • Ultrarunning, nice! The ultrarunning community has always struck me as super-friendly and almost laid-back, which is hilarious because you wouldn’t think of “laid-back” when thinking of people who run 50+ mile races. Just goes to show that preconceptions don’t often match up with reality.

  3. I have mixed feelings about women’s only races, even if there were more races like Thelma & Louise (which by the way I think is totally badass and would love to do). One of the arguments for women’s only races is to create a less intimidating atmosphere for women to participate. The reason why I don’t buy into this argument (not saying that there aren’t women who aren’t looking for this, just that this reasoning doesn’t work when applying it to the group) is that up until around age 40, there are more female racers than male racers. Overall, there are about equal participation from men and women.

    I could buy into the logic of creating an atmosphere to encourage greater participation if women were a small proportion of participants, as in triathlons, but this isn’t true for road races.

    On the other hand, if you look at sports as a whole, women are less likely participate and you could argue that anything that increases participation from women is a good thing.

    • I’m with you on the mixed feelings about women-only races. The reason why I ultimately come down on the side of pro-women races is because there are a ton of women out there who really don’t feel comfortable with co-ed racing, and so if women-only races provide a way for women to explore their athleticism in a way that feels less threatening and scary, then I’m okay with that.

      I do think that a lot of the women who are intimidated by co-ed races would be surprised by what actually happens at them. But then I’ve never really had a bad time at co-ed races, and have gotten support from racers of all ages and genders. In fact, at last weekend’s triathlon, the majority of the racers who were shouting support at me out on the race course were older guys. Sure, there are some elitist snobby dudes at co-ed races, but there are elitist snobby women out there, too. The secret is to not give a fuck about what those people think, but I also know it’s easier said than done for a lot of people.

      • Thanks for this article, Caitlin! (I was one of the many who asked for it). I haven’t actually run any races yet (my first one is coming up soon on May 18th- scary!) but I don’t think I’d be threatened or intimidated by having men at races. I mean, the men are ranked separately from the women, so it’s not like you’re competing with them anyway, right? I think I’d feel more intimidated by the other women, whom I’m actually supposed to be competing against!
        I consider myself pretty feminine, but I think all that pink, princessy, “girl power” stuff is more offputting than empowering (sidenote- I’ve seen that Onion article you linked to before. What do you think about it? It’s funny in places and it definitely has a point, but I also picked up on an anti-feminist feeling, and I didn’t like the fat-shaming).

  4. I’ve run the Princess, the Tufts 10K (formerly the bonne bell mini marathon), and just ran the Nike DC and I’m a big dyke. I enjoyed the humor of having the guys at the finish (who even I can appreciate, though they were not shirtless) and my charming bling and even the expo where I got my hair straightened and subsequently curled (because apparently curly hair must be straightened before it can be curled) and a “make under.” I bought the tiffany themed sneakers and joked with my mom about the effectiveness of the phrase “limited edition shoes” to the target market. I get your point, but when it comes to over-the-top gender princess stuff, I base my philosophy on a quote from RuPaul: “We are born naked. Everything else is drag.” I can enjoy being a girly girl at times, and not let it mess around with my sense of who I really am. Now I agree with you that this should not be the only mode that women’s races take, and dude I would be ALL OVER a thelma and louise race if I lived closer and wasn’t doing Boston’s Run to Remember a few days earlier. But at the end of the day, as a slow asthmatic runner who races for fun, not competition, I find the vibe at women’s races to be very supportive, and co-ed races less so. Both Nike and Princess had lots of runners at my pace and slower, and lots and lots of bodies that were not skinny young runner bodies. It’s a bit of a paradox, but behind all that sparkle and champagne is where the real running diversity lies. Now, can we get the Thelma and Louise race to be a series? And can Brad Pitt AND Susan Sarandon look-alikes PLEASE give me the meal?

    • I love the idea of approaching it as sort of a campy thing, but for whatever reason, I’m just not able to do it myself. It’s not just this kind of overly girly stuff, though. Like, I went to Vegas a couple of years ago, and despite my best attempts to do as my friends told me and just go with the cheesiness, within a day I felt as though all of my senses had been scraped raw.

      I think I would have an easier time approaching it all with a sense of humor if I didn’t feel like I’ve spent the last twenty years or so resisting the message that embracing these things is the Only Correct Way To Be A Woman. To embrace things with a sense of camp and irony seems to require a bit of emotional distance that I just don’t have at this point in my life, if that makes any sense.

  5. Having never run a women-only race, I can’t really talk about whether or not they have a less competitive vibe about them then co-ed races. The truth is, where I stand in these events, we’re kind of middle-of-the-pack people and the actual competitive ones are so far ahead I really never sense that “competitive” atmosphere anyway.

    I’ve been giving this a bit more thought since reading the article and, whereas, like you, I don’t really have a problem with women-only races but more with the whole stereotype they help continue with all their sparkle and pink shit, I’m actually now kind of wondering about the whole women-only concept as a whole anyway. If I came across a men’s running event, I’d find it sexist so part of me is now telling me I shouldn’t be ok with a women’s race either, for the same reason. In trying to be empowering, there’s a risk that we’re actually widening that gap.

    • I handed out water at a women-only race once – as a way of helping the local Girls on the Run chapter – and the women at the front of the race (and in the chase pack) were just as competitive as front runners at any race I’ve ever seen. I think that if you are a competitive person, you will be competitive no matter if you are racing in a group of women or in a mixed gender group.

      Also, I find it interesting that there’s this dichotomy being set up between “competitive” and “supportive,” as if women who are competitive and serious about setting PRs/gunning for AG awards/whatever are going to be out there stampeding over the women who are just out for some fun and exercise.

      I have seen so many different dynamics play out at races that it is hard for me to make one huge sweeping generalization about the way women (or men!) interact with one another at races.

      • This actually reminds me of the discussion around your Facebook post yesterday about the girls’ t-shirt that said “Nice Doesn’t Win Games,” which I think illustrates that dichotomy.

  6. AMEN. I was at a race expo last month where a women’s half-marathon had a booth. The booth was HOT PINK with zebra print, and they had shirtless male models handing out information and glasses of pink sparkling wine. I rolled my eyes so hard that I’m a little surprised they’re still both in my skull. I don’t mind the idea of a women’s only race per se (the Thelma and Louise one sounds awesome!), but they all seem to come in the same pink-sparkle-princess packaging that I strongly dislike.

  7. How timely that you write about this as this past weekend was the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in Washington, D.C. I saw part of this race (and actually considered it until I saw the astronomical entry fee) and when I saw the runners pass by, I thought “this is not my thing.” I think it is the marketing of the event as this sort of girlie girl thing. I seldom relate to that so I end up feeling out of place. I was out running today and saw a couple of women wearing their turquoise finishing shirts. Turquoise? How much turquoise can a person own? And I love turquoise! But it bothered me that the event organizers chose what I would consider a stereotypical girl color.

    Anyway, I don’t want to take away from the accomplishment of those who ran this past weekend, but as a woman who has run both half- and full-distance marathons, I did not connect to the event and would not put it on my must-do event list.

    • They probably chose turquoise because of all the reaction against pink… Also, is turquoise a stereotypical girl color? I’d consider it pretty gender neutral. My boyfriend (who has the typical American male aversion to wearing most colors) and I both wear turquoise with about the same frequency.

      • Fair point. I’ve consistently seen the lighter shades as primarily a women’s color, but I could be wrong. Oh, and I learned that the color of the finishing shirts was, in fact, “Tiffany blue.”

  8. My experience with women-only races has been almost the polar opposite of yours. I’ve only run in one, the New York Mini 10K. No sea of pink, no referring to women as girls. There were carnations at the finish (along with medals), but that was the only difference from any mixed-gender race. I’ve run it twice, and one year the shirt was pink, but the other year, it was orange.

    I consider myself to be a mid-pack runner, but that’s in a mixed-gender context. At my pace, despite my training, there are a ton of guys who can basically wake up and run a 10K at around my pace on basically no training. It kind of shocked me the first time I did this race– I could see the start line. The people around me were serious runners– Not people doing it just because their buddy was doing it and they had nothing better to do on a Saturday morning. The people around me trained for this race, they peaked for this race. It was just such a different context to be running in, and the first time I ran it, it really changed my perception of myself as a runner. I stopped thinking of myself as a slow, back of the pack runner and realized that when I compared myself only to people of my own gender, well, I wasn’t so terrible.

    This isn’t to invalidate your experience– Different races offer different things, and I have no doubt that if I’d done the women-only race you did, I would have had very similar feelings. But if more race marketers would stop pretending that women are this monolith and start thinking that we may participate in races for –just maybe — the racing! and the competition! Well, it wouldn’t have to be that way.

    • I’m glad to hear that you’ve had a good experience with them! Maybe there is hope after all for women-only races. I agree that treating us as if we are all the same – and that we all identify with a limited set of stereotypes to boot – is not the way for race marketers to go about things. More diversity in the way these things are set up can only be a good thing, because I know that I’m not the only woman out there who looks at this stuff and wrinkles her nose.

  9. I think my comment got eaten? Whops.

    Ok, l’ll say it again but more succinctly:

    I appreciate that folks are pointing out the heteronormativity, even though, as a chick who is attracted to chicks, I would feel just as uncomfortable if they threw in a few hot women firefighters along with the men (ok, maybe I’d also enjoy that some, but I’d definitely feel weird and uncomfortable anyway), because what really bugs me about it is the idea of being put in this quasi-romantic pantomime with anyone at all. I do not enjoy fake flirting, I think it’s gross.

    But, but, but I’d probably put up with it anyway to get one of those “run like a girl” necklaces because they seem pretty awesome and I would take that over a medal any damn day.

  10. And as to the question of whether they’re sexist– I would submit that based on sex-based differences between male and female runners, the number of mixed-gender races won outright by women is very small- maybe around 1%. Yes, the men who are winning are doing it fairly, but I see nothing sexist about occasionally giving women a chance to win outright. Some, yes, would say that the men’s and women’s races are two separate races simultaneously, but you’ll never see the headline “(female runner here) wins marathon!” — it’s always the first, male finisher who is the ‘winner’, and then the first female ‘wins the women’s race’.

  11. I just ran in the Nike Women Half Marathon in DC! I liked the swag (no pink) but it definitely had a different vibe then other races I ran this month …

  12. Supergenericgirl: Very much agree and appreciate your view.

    Meaghansketch: As someone who looks up a lot of results, I find they are always shown online as “Male Overall” and “Female Overall”. They hand out awards at most small races, and announce the winners, for the Women first. Lately, the American Women at most international events have been a far more interesting race to follow then the Men.

    • Hmm, good point. I’m 33 now and as I was growing up, the Disney princess thing was really starting to take off. (I particularly loved Belle with all her books, but that was because I was super-bookish as a kid, and still am actually.) Prior to that, I don’t recall princesses being all that much of a thing. Maybe Barbies and Cabbage Patch dolls, but princesses, not so much.

      Unless, of course, you consider Jem and She-Ra to be princesses, which I didn’t. :)

  13. Great post. Sam and I are doing that women-only triathlon in July. So far nothing about it suggests a pink girlie girl theme, but I guess we’ll see. For me, it’s making it slightly less intimidating, never having done a triathlon before. Will report!

  14. I have enjoyed being in the supportive company of women only triathlons, particularly ones with a survivor wave. I also don’t like the inclusion of gifts, etc. based on normative stereotypes of women. I’m interested in hearing how some of you would organize and what you would include a women’s only race to avoid this.

  15. Soooo this is WAY off topic but you mentioned that you lived in Utah? Not sure what part of Utah you lived in, but I’m planning a vacation to the National parks in Southern Utah this November. Do you know what the weather is like at that time of year?

  16. I also just cannot get past the princess motifs and cute outfits and photo ops. I don’t run to be pretty and girly, I run to be tough, fierce and self-confident! And its such a great feeling that so many women I know could use more of in their lives.

    I think there can be something very powerful and inspiring about a women’s only race, but I also think that nearly all of these events (Thelma & Louise looks like a solid exception) fall to harness that amazing energy. It’s not about taking pretty pictures for facebook with silly outfits, its about pushing yourself to something new and maybe a little uncomfortable.

    For once — just for once — can it be about supporting each other in mutual strength instead of in mutual cuteness?

  17. You articulate something in this post that I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on; the notion that what turns me off about stuff that is “for women” is not the fact that it will be all women, but the suggestion that I need my hand held in order to feel empowered to do something. Being that I’m in a STEM field these types of events pop up all the time in the form of networking events and mentoring programs and I have always had this strong, visceral hatred for them and avoid them like the plague. And yet, any time I organically find myself in a group of women who I genuinely consider to be kick-ass chicks, I think it’s the greatest and most empowering thing ever. So it’s never made a lot of sense to me that I’m such a hater… until now. Thanks.

    Don’t even get me started on athletic equipment with flowers on it. WTF. Do you think that if you put embroidered flowers on a climbing harness I will see it and think “Oh!! Climbing IS for girls! Maybe I CAN do it!”.

    This makes me mad. Like… really mad. I am getting unnecessarily worked up about it just writing this sentence.

    • I thought about my cycling helmet, which has hibiscus on it, as I read your comment. :) It’s funny, I don’t inherently hate a lot of things that are normally coded feminine, like flowers, pink, make-up, kittens, etc. as much as I hate the idea that because I am a woman I must be into these things. It’s reductive and insulting.

  18. Thank you! I despise the pigeon-holing of women as pink shopping divas. I’m a competitive cyclist (road), and thankfully that sport hasn’t been taken over by this trend.

  19. Thelma and Louise is a film where the two women commit suicide at the end rather than be accountable for their actions. Louise refuses to drive the most direct route to Mexico ( which would not have saved them anyway, as Mexico has an extradition treaty with the US). Brad Pitt steals Thelma’s money. So, sure–a race where someone robs you and then you die at the end sounds great.

    • Oh, but Thelma and Louise don’t “die” in the end! They are immortalized in that end freeze-frame, much like Butch and Sundance. They reach a state of fearlessness and live on forever. (But your version was funnier.)

      I enjoyed reading this post. I’ve never done a women-only race for all the reasons you just described. I’d love to do one that actually empowers women instead of reducing them to stereotypes and belittling them.

  20. Thanks for this article. And to those who left comments, as it’s really got me thinking about gender-specific events. I haven’t competed in any women-only races but looking back at races that I’ve not enjoyed so much……I can’t see that making them women-only would have improved them (it’s usually poor race organisation and overcrowding that ruins it for me!)

    What I am very sure about is how uncomfortable I am with this idea that all women like pink, like shopping and want to see semi-naked men at events (racing or otherwise) . Racing, for me, is about commitment and discipline and a good result – my being a woman doesn’t really come into it – though I am always grateful for additional ladies toilets!

    That said, I do think there is a place for frivolity at fun runs and less-competitive events – I’m all for anything that gets women exercising. Some of those fun runners will end up competing in more serious events where they’ll appreciate being treated with the respect they deserve – not as a ‘delicate princess who needs to be praised’.

  21. I am running in this years’ Thelma and Louise 1/2. I choose it because I wanted to do a women’s only race and I am hoping that it will remind me of the spirit of that awesome movie. I don’t think there will be a lot pink there… Hopefully not. But if there is oh well I am embracing the scenery and the spirit of my favorite characters.
    I will let you know how it goes.
    Kitty

  22. My first triathlon was last year’s Iron Girl in my area. I HATED the name but had so many women tell me it would be a great first triathlon that I went ahead and signed up. It was great and I found the whole atmosphere to be very positive and encouraging but I still feel uncomfortable with the whole idea that women need special races (and all pink races apparently) in order to participate.

    • I should amend this post with the fact that the race t-shirt was purple. I wear it all the time when I work out. I’m not sure I would if it was pink. I never used to have a problem with pink until the past decade or so when it seems to be rammed down my throat incessantly because I have a uterus.

  23. Just wanted to mention that here in Sweden, some women got so tired of this, and the fact that many races, like the “Vasaloppet”, (skiing) have a girl-vasalopp that is shorter than the “real” one (instead of just having a shorter alternative, for everybody..) that they started a “Girl Marathon” last year which is.. 53 km! : ) They do it again this year, now open for both males and females but still called Girl Marathon.

    In swedish: http://tjejmarathon.wordpress.com/

      • No different from a ladies’ tee at golf, is it? … or the shorter clubs being sold as ladies’ clubs? (Arthritis, so I walk, don’t run… But my closest runner friend is Disney princess crazy (32) and was obese before she found the world of Disney marathons and sparkle skirts, so they certainly do reach people utterly uninterested in plain old running!)

  24. I agree with this but I just wanted to add – I am a huge girly-girl. I love shopping, pink, shoes, shopping for pink shoes, mani/pedis, Lilly Pulitzer, and so on. But for me the reason I have never done a women-themed race (and probably won’t unless I’m doing it for the timing/location/etc) is that for me, running is separate from that. Running is a huge part of who I am, but it’s a distinct part. I don’t need my girly side to, for lack of a better word, “infect” my running, because I already am part competitive sweaty runner and part super girly-girl. I don’t need a themed race to tell me it’s okay to be both of those things at once.

  25. I don’t like pink, and don’t like to see everything oriented to women/girls as needing to be pink. I get frustrated shopping for my granddaughter, and see that everything, from toys to clothes, is pink, pink pink.

  26. I ran Nike Women’s in San Francisco twice and will never do it again. I overheard way too many women say “I’m just doing this for the Tiffany’s necklace”. You can buy a necklace from Tiffany’s for less than the insane entry fee!

  27. This is awesome! I am that girl/woman/lady/ma’am that hates pink! I never subscribed to it and I did do an Iron Girl once to be shoveled pink paraphernalia down my throat. It would of been better if they spent more time on the lay out of the
    water stations instead of bottlenecking all of us!.

  28. Totally agree with all of this. I just ran my first women only race – the Chicago Women Rock! half marathon – with my sister. It was probably the nicest race I’ve run – nice in terms of the other runners, that is. Everyone was friendly and supportive and clearly working hard but also enjoying the beautiful course. Of course, I was also running at a much slower pace than usual, so maybe my experience was just the difference in pace groups? I didn’t feel empowered by the experience, but I can see how it might have felt so if it had been my first race, or if I’d been intimidated by running with men.

    The rest of it? Meh. Lots of pink (which I like) and champagne at the finish line (which I enjoy). Lots of talk about shirtless firemen, but few actually on display (frustratingly heteronormative, yes, but also false advertising). The course was nice, but everything before/after was poorly organized.

    Overall I guess I wish that more effort would go into getting women running, period, than into niche events that monetize a heteronormative definition of female athleticism.

  29. Pingback: Great Eastern Women’s Run: A Strong, Beautiful Cheer-fest! | Run With Holly·

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