Sunday, June 10, 2012

Are gender-specific races sexist?

Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

My colleague and friend FS ran in the NYRR Mini 10K yesterday, and that got me thinking about gender-specific races. The Mini 10K originates back to the days when women's distance running was virtually banned by most racing associations. The mindset of the time was ridiculous, and it wasn't until the 1984 Olympics that women could finally compete at the full marathon distance. But today, there are no such issues, and the percentage of women finishers at every race distance is over 50%.

Excluding men from women-oriented races doesn't make much sense to me at this point. I suppose women-only events, like the Mini 10K, More Half Marathon and the Disney Princess races, may provide a safe experience that encourages more women into the sport. But is this practice a double standard? Or is it a matter of celebrating every women's right to competitive equality?

Allowing men into these races may risk spoiling the spirit and focus of these important events. But the exclusion of those who wish to compete mirrors the same conditions that integrated single gender races in the first place.

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