RunEqual is for everyone who believes that men & women, and girls & boys should have equal status in athletics. The current focus is on campaigning to equalise the distance run by women and men in cross-country events, but any other gender equality issues in athletics are also relevant.
Great news, December 2020:
STATEMENT BY UKA & THE HCAFS REGARDING EQUAL ACCESS TO CROSS COUNTRY COMPETITION DISTANCES
Statement from RunEqual on UKA Cross Country consultation
22 January 2021
RunEqual are delighted that UK Athletics are working towards equalising XC distances. This is long overdue, and change when it comes will bring the last few remaining unequal races in our sport in line with the vast majority of races on the road, track, fells and trails, as well as most existing XC races – from local leagues to world championships.
It is important to remember that equalising race distances doesn’t mean ‘change what the women run to be the same as men’. It never has. However it is a common assumption on this issue which sadly reflects perfectly the bigger problem we have here.
Equalising races can be done in many ways. Across a UK cross country season club athletes are lucky to race a variety of distances, courses, race formats and depths of mud. Our view is that the plans for how to equalise are best made by close collaboration with event organisers, taking into account what is best for that event.
It is also important that elite athletes’ experiences and views are recognised – especially for changes affecting championship and qualification races. We fully agree with the following points made by a number of current and former athletes and we urge UKA to consider these in their decision making process.
- Changes to championship or qualifying races need to work for elite athletes. It is important there are opportunities to compete, qualification events are suitable and events attract good quality fields.
- Elite athletes must be consulted and assured their views have been heard and incorporated in this process.
- Any changes to events now do not imply that events athletes competed in in the past were in any way of a lower standard.
Likewise, it is also important the views of coaches and event organisers are taken account of by UKA through their consultation and decision making process.
There are many precedents to look to across our sport where events have equalised in recent years. It is now four years since Scotland equalised National Championship XC distances for all age groups. In the senior events women previously ran 8k, men 12k. Now both run 10k. Participation has continued to increase in line with the general growth of our sport, and while you’ll hear plenty of cheerful grumbles on the day directed at the mud, rain and hail filled headwinds, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone complaining that the women are running the same distance as the men. Scottish athletes are currently achieving fantastic results in endurance events.
Having said all this, ultimately UKA have to take a decision. Whatever they decide, it won’t be everybody’s first choice. However, we know from events that have recently changed that our community quickly gets used to it and gets on with the important business of enjoying the racing, or at least the post-race cake.
We urge those across our community to give UKA their views to inform their approach by completing their survey, open until Jan 29th.
UKA have also asked for ideas that could help with future discussions, and research that can help build the evidence base to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also ask those in our running community discussing this issue to do so constructively and with respect. The last year has been extremely tough. We all miss our sport, our clubmates, and our running communities. In normal times these conversations happen over post-race cake or at the club bar, in the spirit of friendship and with space for nuance and varied views. It is far too easy for the same discussions on social media to quickly become polarised and divisive. Please treat these spaces as you would your clubhouse and clubmates. We all do this because we love it.
And with that, we are going out for a run. We hope you’ve been out today too.
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