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The Women’s Teams Worked Just As Hard As The Men’s

We’ve written a few times about the inequality that sometimes exists in the world of running. We always hope that with it being 2019 it’s something that’s dying out but just recently inequality seems to have staged a bit of a comeback.

First we had the Ourea Xtrem race in France (not connected in any way with the UK Ourea Events company) who are offering ‘€200,000 in prize money, unmatched in the world of trail running’. However, their prize money is divided up so that the top 20 men get some, but only the top 5 women, and it’s skewed so that the winning woman will only receive half of what the winning man will get. Elite men are invited to enter the 250k route, whereas elite women are offered the 120k. Women are ‘allowed’ to enter the longer event (that’s good of them), but there’s no prize money for them. I’m now willing Jasmin Paris, Courtney Dauwalter or Sabrina Verjee to enter it and win it outright.

Many runners pulled them up on this inequality, including Sophie Grant and Camille Herron. However, the organisers just seemed to dig themselves a deeper hole by continuing to justify the inequality on the basis that fewer women enter the events. This is obviously true of many big ultras, though it doesn’t mean there’s inequality in the prize money at those. They have now said that they will review the situation if they get a bigger turnout of women in the future. Which sounds quite non-committal to me. I should also add that the Ourea Xtrem race has an impressive list of ambassadors, all of whom are male.

Last night I saw an events company had posted about the weekend’s FRA relays on Facebook. They were congratulating the winning teams, but only the men’s. Somebody pulled them up on this in quite a light-hearted way, so they then posted a link to the full results. But others then requested that they edit their original post to give equality to both the men’s and women’s teams. After all, as one of the posters pointed out ‘we worked just as hard as the men’.

This sort of oversight is rarely deliberate, but it’s still so common. I’ve lost track of the number of press releases we receive about races which follow this format: ‘this male athlete won the race – several paragraphs about the men – and in the women’s race… – a quick paragraph’. Many event and PR companies are much better about this now, but there are definitely still some dinosaurs out there. There’s a men’s race and a women’s race and they deserve equal billing.

And sometimes the women’s race is the big story. I was so heartened by the press release from the Great South Run at the weekend, which gave main billing to Eilish McColgan‘s brilliant run, where she beat her mum (Liz McColgan)’s Scottish 10 mile record. Then it said ‘and in the men’s race…’.

For the dinosaurs out there it’s really not hard and there’s really no excuse for it. Just think of women and men as equal and post about the races and allocate prize money accordingly. Because if you don’t, in this day and age, you’ll get picked up on it pretty quickly.

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