Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for equality. Yes, women should be paid the same as men for the same job. Women should have the same rights as men to vote, own property and complete higher education. But what’s happening right now with the IAAF is just ridiculous!
Here’s the full article on what constitutes a woman’s world record in a marathon. Basically, the current world record of 2 hours 15 minutes and change held by Paula Radcliffe no longer counts as she earned that record at the London marathon—a mixed sex race. She had an unfair advantage because she was racing with men and they pushed her to run faster and harder. They are now claiming that only records set at women only races should count for women.
In my opinion, I see several problems with this new “rule.” All the major marathons are co-ed endeavors. Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York all have a mixed field. These are the marathons that people know about, have heard of and are possibly hoping to qualify for or be chosen in the lottery to run these races. Now, the most important races in the sport can’t have a world record set at them? Where does that leave the elite women runners? Competing for cash but not time? (Trust me these majors pay out significantly more than the smaller races)
This is a major step back in the history of women’s running. The first woman to enter and try to run the Boston Marathon was Katherine Switzer in 1967. Race officials tried to pull her from the course for the mere fact that she was a woman. It wasn’t until 1984 that the Olympics allowed the women’s marathon to be an official event. ( I still remember watching that race and being so proud that the American Joan Benoit Samuelson won on home turf!) Before that it was believed that “women just couldn’t run that far.” (even though they’d been doing it for several years at other marathons).
The major complaint for women setting record in co-ed events is the fact that the men push the women to be faster. Who’s to say the women don’t push the men? Let’s be honest, I don’t know any man that likes to get beat by a woman. Yes, it happens to many of them in co-ed races but I guarantee the sight of a woman coming up on a man only encourages him to run a little faster so he doesn’t get beat by a chick!
My final issue with this potential rule change is the atmosphere of all women races. I’m not opposed to all women’s events; I’m running the pink half marathon next month is Park City. You can even read my friend Rhielle’s thoughts on all women’s races. In my experience, all women’s races are more about the swag bag, making friends and wearing pink not about the competition. Most all women’s races are designed to help women feel comfortable and confident racing. They provide a safe haven for women who don’t want to compete with men.
I think if we’re really going for a separate but equal playing field when it comes to road racing, we need to let women set women’s records at co-ed or same sex events. There will always be separate records for both men and women; I just hope we don’t see an asterisk denoting a record set at a co-ed event.