Run Equal

2021-01-23Comments

Here are some thoughts on #runequal, the move to equalize race distances for male and female cross-country runners:

  1. I wasn’t going to comment because the subject is typically presented as “women want to run the same distance as men”, and I can’t speak for women. But that angle is part of the problem! Men want to run the same distance as women too. As a competitor I don’t want to run an unequal event. As a spectator I don’t want to watch one. As a parent I found it shameful that my daughter was running “lesser” distances in cross-country league races, and lower on the bill. What sort of message does that give about endurance, toughness, fairness?

  2. It’s hard to imagine we won’t end up with equal distances. Please, let’s get there quickly without embarrassing ourselves. It’s tough to see a sport I love looking out of touch. Would parkrun have been successful if it had been 3K for women at 8:30 followed by 5K for men at 9:00?

  3. Yes, cross-country has a rich tradition, but we can respect that and build on it. Part of that tradition includes imagination and variety: for example, the distance I race in the Gwent League is nominally 10K, but 10K on the firm sand at Pembrey is very different to 10K through the muddy slopes of Parc Bryn Bach. Let’s mix up the distances, let’s offer more than one distance: just as some runners love a technical course, or a hilly one, some will prefer a shorter course, some a longer one. Cross-country will still be racing at its very best.

Round the reservoir

I’m the third of three Swansea Harriers in this photo, taken at the West Glamorgan League’s round the reservoir fixture in Port Talbot a year ago. Men and women run the same two lap course, with a staggered start to avoid overcrowding. It’s competitive, inclusive, fair, traditional — and great fun!