FOR SUCH a simple activity as ours, the running community is beset by vigorously debated divisions. To Strava or not to Strava? Decompression socks or anklets? Fully aware of my status as a cisgendered hetero normative white male, I hereby weigh in on the debate over whether women should run the same distance as men in cross-country.
I am a big fan of women. I’m born of a woman, am married to a woman and happily live and work among them. Many close friends are female and in terms of athletics I have never really seen a difference. My early running heroes were mostly women such as Rosa Mota, Grete Waitz, Zola Budd, Joan Benoit and Ingrid Kristiansen. I am regularly trounced in training and on race day by women of all ages.
So my answer to the question is yes. To believe women are in any way weaker over any distance is nonsense of the highest order. If you’d told me as a youth that we’d be debating in 2018 whether or not men and women should be racing over the same distance, I’d have thought you were being ridiculous; but still, we are. Given that, various thoughts spring to mind.
My first thought is: why would anyone want to run longer? Men’s races tend to fall in the 10-15km mark, while women’s top out at 8-10km. Cross-country is a freezing, muddy, wet purgatory. I’ve often been tempted to self-identify as a woman on the day to spare myself the extra distance.
So given that any question rega