Decades ago, women-only road races made sense. Societal notions on the athletic abilities of women left them banned from participating in most road races up until the 1960s and 1970s. Women-only races emerged as a beacon of the women’s running revolution: if we couldn’t participate in road races, then we would make our own.
That victory has long since been won. Women are no longer tackled when they run the Boston Marathon. Our gender comprises almost 50% of participants in road races, especially the half marathon.
So why do women-only road races, like last weekend’s Tufts 10k for Women, still exist? Are they a celebration of women’s running, an opportunity to introduce women to run, or a sexist remnant of an older era of road racing that promotes stereotypes about women in sports?