I’ve been a subscriber to Women’s Running magazine, ever since our very own Salty was featured! I’m like a little kid at Christmas when a glossy, new magazine appears in my mailbox each month, but, I must admit, I was a little bit taken aback when I opened the front page of the August issue. The headlines flashed at me:
Reward me with a glitzy medal! Pamper me in the freshen up lounge! Celebrate me with a Bubbly toast! Treat me with a cookie cafe!
Hmmmm…where was this going?
Oh yes, Women Only races. Upon this realization, I think my eyes rolled across the room.
I picked up my eyeballs and opened up the magazine, resolved to keep an open mind. The first feature was all about the “Women’s Running Series: Half Marathon and 5k Weekend Getaways.” Here are some of the profiled races and the little blurbs describing them:
Highlights include a designer, reusable goodie bag and a “one-of-a-kind medal” with a removable center charm. Finishers can add the center charm to any necklace or bracelet as a “constant reminder of her achievement”.
An upcoming event for this one includes a “Ladies Night Like No Other” complete with sweet treats, drinks and massages to kick-off the training.
Perks for this one include giveaways, just for signing up. Makeovers are selected randomly bi-weekly on Mondays and all participants are automatically entered to win a “glamping” getaway in Santa Barbara. Glamping (apparently made popular by The Real Housewives) winners get a canvas-tented rustic paradise that is fully furnished with a heater and lamps. Beach cruisers and a heated pools are some of the perks included.
Wait. These are races? Ok, the open mind didn’t last long. I soon found myself getting pretty irked. I’m not known to be a hardcore feminist or anything, but my blood really started to boil! Why are women’s races marketed as pampering sessions? Why do these races think I’m enticed by baked goods to register for a race? Why must my medal be convertible into jewelry?
Despite (apparent) popular belief, women runners can be pretty bad ass, too. Give me a little money to compete for, an unripe banana and a ticket for a warm can of beer at the end and I’m good to go, thank you. I guess I can see both sides of the coin here, but I wanted to see where our readers weigh in on this new “Women Only” racing series phenomenon that seems to be popping up, well … everywhere.
I can see why some women might be interested in these events. I’m not under any delusion that all women are comfortable in the sweaty male-dominated conventional race environment. Many women take up running after never ever being athletic before and I can imagine are intimidated by a more athletic-centered environment. These more female-centric “races” could be a gateway for more women to enter the sport? There is definitely an audience for this type of race; otherwise, it wouldn’t exist.
I guess for me, as a runner who sometimes feels like conventional races don’t always take women runners seriously, I think these women’s races that take the focus almost entirely off competition and park it on the swag and the comfort (are races supposed to be comfortable?), it just seems to perpetuate the stereotypes that already drive me batty. For serious female runners who train and push just as hard as their male counterparts, this seems to almost patronize such efforts, in my opinion. I can’t help but picture a boardroom filled with male executives scheming how more women will want to enter a race, with astronomical race fees and, therefore, profits, when there’s CHOCOLATE, DIAMONDS, and COOKIES at the end! Barf!
Have you or would you ever run a women’s only endurance event? Do you love or hate them? Am I missing something?