Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Girls are from mars and boys have a... women’s race series?

Raising a toddler makes lots of things apparent to me that I never would have thought of on my own.  Ignorance truly is bliss.  For example, my eyes have been opened to an orgy of singing cartoons that I want to punch in the face that I never knew existed before.  Bob is real, and the little S.O.B. has some freaking BUILDING to do.  Also, I’m finding how little control I have over my life.  I don’t make dinner when I want.  I make it based on when my son starts screaming is hungry.  If I want to go out and run errands, I don’t just go. Oh, no no no.  I need to pack up snacks and diapers and make sure that I’m not out too long to interrupt nap time.  Precious nap time.

One of the other things that is interesting to me are the differences between boys and girls toys.  I can’t buy a gender neutral sleeping bag, I can buy a Barbie one...or I can buy a Cars one. (At least at Target.)  Fortunately, my kid would drive MY car right now if I would let him so he was good to go.  If I go to Target, there is the pink isle and there is the transformer / spiderman isle. It’s very segregated.

A similar thing with gender is happening with races.  More and more often, I’m finding that the “new” thing in running is female only races.  In fact, with 30 seconds of thinking, I came up with this list of female only races:

Nike Women’s marathon
Zooma
Disney Princess
IronGirl
MORE / Fitness Half Marathon
Diva’s Half Marathon series
Lady Speed Stick Half Marathon Series

Now, to be clear, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with any of these races – but they sure are popping up more and more frequently.

BUT WAIT, I can hear you asking. Why don’t you put on that running skirt that we all KNOW you have and run in the women’s races!?  What about mud runs, color runs, and Spartan races?  Aren’t THOSE the new and best thing in running?  Well, let me introduce you to the Pretty Muddy Women’s mud run series.  To answer the question I know that everyone is asking.  No, bikinis are not the wardrobe of choice.  I looked. Twice.

I realize that I don’t have the requisite parts (ovaries) to comment TOO much on the races, but a female only mud run just sounds absurd to me. Never mind that the race has all sorts of disclaimers on their FAQ page that say that you don’t even have to get muddy. Isn’t it just a road race then?  Generally speaking, races are 60%+ female anyway, do we really need to have something as specialized as a mud run be even more specialized by making it female only?  To me, that would be like going into business selling sex swings (limited market) but only making them available for left handed people (limiting more).  I mean, I would kick ass in the left handed sex swing user segment, but I would think I'd be limiting myself a bit.

I “get” that the purpose of these races is to provide a safe encouraging environment for women to run in.  But, I really feel like a mud run might be going a bit too far.  Am I alone?  If you say that female mud runs are just fine and dandy then I'll totally put on my skirt and dive head first into the mud pit.

32 comments:

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

You should sue.

Atha said...

I don't get it either. Not to say that they aren't fun for some but mud runs aren't my thing. Can't imagine a women's only one. It seems maybe they are trying to attract the newbie runners. If that's the case then I think it's great to get more people out running in an environment they are comfortable in. Now, about that running skirt. I think there's a funny photo Friday post there somewhere.

Adam Ricklefs said...

Rose - I'm too lazy to look into it, but I remember dude getting all huffy about how he was prohibited from running one of the princess races or something. I guess they can't legally restrict, but they can restrict men from winning awards.... or something. Like I said, way too lazy to look into it. :)

Joyce said...

Princess & Tinkerbell are open to all genders, but only women can start in the first corral and win awards.

Kerrie T. said...

You forgot the See Jane series. We also have You Go Girl up here.

Andrea said...

I've run the See Jane Run half and I think that it/Zooma/Tinkerbell sorta cater to a girls night/weekend retreat kind of thing - which dudes don't usually do...? Other than that, I think some are a bit lame and almost make me feel like I'm a delicate little flower who can't race against the boys and would rather have a chocolate instead of a beer after a race, which is lame.

Nobel4Lit said...

I've never been inclined to due races with so much airborne estrogen... and I never really understood how these races could be fine but if there was a "men encouraged" race, there'd be an uproar.

As an exception, Disney races definitely attract females (e.g. Tinkerbell Half, Princess Half), but they don't blatantly say "women's" in their title -- thus, I'm OK with those.

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

Okay, instead of suing, you should go be whatever they're trying to escape. Viking helmet. See if you can borrow some chest hair. Stare at them I guess? Threaten to run faster than they do? I don't know. It's ridiculous.

Chris said...

As someone else said, Princess is not women only, it just seems that way. I run a race in Baltimore that is the second oldest women's only 5k in the country (can't figure out #1 honestly...) and it was my very first 5k ever because it was women only. I was more comfortable at that distance/time in my training that I didn't want to deal with the guys. Now? Don't care. Don't care if it's women only or men only or mixed.

I think the women's only mud run might be targeting women who think mud runs are men only territory. They are predominantly male in participants, which could make someone a little hesitant to run one. I did Spartan last year and while I almost died, it was nice to have guys on the course. I'll admit having the guys help me over the walls sure was nice (since I didn't have to do the 30 burpees that come with missing an obstacle!).

But, don't go by me. I tend to get along better with men than women. LOL!

pennpalrunner said...

I don't think it's all that weird. I've never actually heard of a race that explicitly bars men - even the Nike Women's Half allows guys to run in it. There are definitely races out there that seem to target the male audience (the Spartan races like you mentioned, for one) that also allow women to run... the "women's" races just seem more direct about their audience. Maybe I'd feel differently if I wasn't a girl, but I've never thought of it as very strange.

ikylilcrafter said...

There's another all-female mud run series out there too. The Dirty Girl! (I did it, it was fun, and we DID get super muddy.)

Lisa said...

I don't mind the idea of women's only races but I don't seek them out either. The smaller local events seem to be fine, but the larger ones like Disney and the other series are a bit over the top for me with all the sparkles, skirts, rah rah female empowerment stuff, etc. I don't have anything against those events, but I've decided it's really just not for me. (Disclaimer: I have done Princess and Tinkerbell, but the draw was Disney, not the fact that it was a female-focused race.) On the flip side, I am kind of intrigued by the idea of a women's mud run. Not because it's only for women, but because I imagine the obstacles would be slightly easier. The reason I don't do events like Warrior Dash or whatever isn't because there are big scary men. It's because the obstacles are just way out of my league. I get that the point is to push yourself, but it still has to be fun. I'd love to see a mud run where you still climb and crawl and slide and get muddy, but don't have to be able to lift 100 lbs or survive electric shocks or whatever. I don't care if it's women-only or open to both genders.

Gracie said...

I personally think women's only races are horrible stupid and pandering, but then, I don't like pink and if you gave me a feather boa mid-marathon I'd use it to strangle you. Just me.

TriMOEngr said...

Have yet to do a women-only race. Not sure I see the mass appeal of them, but really just haven't had the opportunity.

As for the toddler, just give it a decade or so and you'll be WISHING for Bob the Builder to be your biggest problem. That said, I go to the grocery store alone most of the time now.

Hannah said...

But I want to get all covered in mud and not be considered a sex object! Of course I'll do it wearing a pink tutu and a tiara and post flirty pictures online afterwards, but DAMMIT I want to be taken seriously and I can't do that in a race where males are present.

Sue's Ramblings said...

Adam, OTT here but could I use this to spread the word on the inaugural Malaysia Women Marathon 2013 taking place on 7 April 2013. Can I tempt the ladies (as well as guys) in a destination race in Kuala Lumpur? Guys are allowed to participate to support/pace your friend, buddy, trainee, girlfriend, wife, mom, sister, cousin, aunt, grandma etc. Katherine Switzer has agreed to grace the event and will be speaking as well as flagging off the race. Details here: www.facebook.com/MalaysiaWomenMarathon

Kayla Moothart said...

I ran an all women's race as my 2nd half marathon without realizing that no men could run is (except for the ones dressed up as women!) The music played was pretty lame ("we are family") but other than that I LOVED the race - everyone is so encouraging its crazy and there is champagne at the end which is my post race drink of choice. Poppin' bottles.

fancy nancy said...

Ok first let me say that I am friggin cracking up over your commentary about having a toddler...I find myself singing those stupid songs on runs!! Plus no one has anyone supervising them! My daughter has become obsessed with Max and Ruby...who live alone and have their grandmother check on them from time to time! Huh?

All girl mud runs do sound a little contrary!

Al's CL Reviews said...

There is a men's only one in Atlanta.
http://www.runningnerdnation.com/Running_Nerd_Nation/Atlanta_Mens_5K.html

Missy said...

A girls only mud run seems lame to me but if it gets women out there then cool.
I've done a few women's only races, they are fun but I don't really feel they are necessary. Racing with men doesn't bother or intimidate me, then again I live with 4 of them ;-)
I do think it helps women get more active and overcome their fear of racing so in that aspect it's a good thing.
If you race one in a skirt and wig, I'm so there ;-)

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

Gotta say, I did do the Wahine Half Marathon (Diva's series) but mainly because it sounded intriguing. And yep, there were a few men, and no, they couldn't get awards.

With that said, after reading your post I think I am not 100% for all the women's only races. I mean, if there was a race and it was men's only, and I could race that weekend, but couldn't because I was the wrong gender, I might be annoyed. Just saying....

And yes, I know some women might feel more comfortable running just with women but I gotta say, I love the mixed races more. It kinda feels good to pass a male runner. Sorry. And in all reality, the couple of times I have felt worn out and received support - it was from a guy saying hang in there, not a gal. And just so there is no confusion, there have been many other times I have felt down and got no support. :)

Kelly @ Running Kellometers said...

I'm torn on the women's races. I think it is kind of a double standard, going against things that many people have fought for over the years. I agree with some of the others that it usually just means a lot of pink, chocolate, and maybe some wine too. I love me some wine, don't get me wrong, but I love racing with the boys. Especially when I beat them. I find co-ed races a lot more fun and I have zero interest in a race like Pretty Muddy.

Maggie Wolff said...

If there is money to be made, someone will do it. Someone saw a great marketing idea (who did the first women's race? was it Nike? I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED) and now everyone is following the money. Not that there is anything wrong with that. This is America after all. And if a woman prefers running among just other women, or prefers the non-competitiveness of some of these races, then good for her. Personally, I prefer the regular old competitive races. Although I have done a women's race (my entry was free) as part of a girls getaway weekend, which was fun.

Also, I would just like to mention that I got "chicked" once by a dude in a skirt (OK, a kilt) during a St. Patrick's themed 5K. Also there is a guy in my running club who has raced in a kilt more than once.

Running On Candy said...

I ran the Diva this year and there were men running too. Apparently men can not be prohibited from running the races but they can be discouraged. I didn't care either way but there were people online who got all huffy about it *shocked*

Al's CL Reviews said...

The Father's Day run in Atlanta is men only as well (or they are the only ones that get timed).

Who knew Georgia was a cutting edge state?

;-)

Jeff McCloud said...

My first inclination is to ask, as a man, why special races for women? When I ran my first half marathon in October, just looking around at the field it was obvious that there were more women. Then when I saw the race stats afterward, it was 64 percent women, 36 percent men.

Char said...

I've never been intimidated by having men in races so never felt the need to go 'girls only'. In fact I quite like having the male of the species there. How else could I chick someone??

Melissa Cole said...

Like so many have said - I get the concept, but just not for me. I do think there is a lot of double standards on gender these days (but I'll stay off that soap box ATM) but I am out there for my race, I don't actually care about the male runners - except to see how many I can beat!! But then, I'm a woman who started reading a 'Women's Runner' magazine the other day and struggled cause it was 'too girly'.... So maybe I'm not the right person to comment....

Courtney said...

I totally think this is overboard! But I also think this is marketing genius! Unfortunately there are so many self conscious women out there that wouldn’t step foot on a Tough Mudder course, but take away the orange headband and throw on a tutu and they are game. I’ve done the Disney Princess and I saw men running it. I would love to see the revenue generated from that expo vs a coed race. So basically it’s all about the $ and apparently women are willing to spend it at this sort of event but no as much at a coed event.

Dina @ DinaRuns said...

I have run one women's only race, Women's Half Marathon (now Lady Speedstick)in St. Pete. It being women only was not really the selling point as proximity to my house and when the race took place. These races must be a selling point for some because they do seem to be increasing.

Jamoosh said...

Are you kidding me? "I “get” that the purpose of these races is to provide a safe encouraging environment for women to run in." But wouldn't every straight guy on the planet over the age of 12 want to go "support" (ogle) a women's only race? Wait, I can see fit women and NOT run AND they are getting muddy and wet. Count me in twice.

B. Jarosz said...

I'm conflicted on this one.

On the one hand: I am 100% for gender equity. The pink/blue toy isles make me CRAZY.

On the other hand: Anything that gets people off their couch and outside exercising is a good thing.

Conflicted.

(Meanwhile, I'll be sticking with traditional road and trail races...)