Run for Life was Unfair to Women

    

Today I crossed the finish line first female overall at Run for Life: A Love Run, clocking in at 50 minutes 30 seconds.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough for De La Salle University’s ENGLICOM organization. They had decided not to have separate men’s and women’s categories. And so out of the nine podium finishers in the 3K, 5K, and 10K distances, there was only one woman. Not me, but a marvelously fast female track athlete in the 3K who beat all but one male. By rights, she should have won first place female.

Run for Life: A Love Run on February 14, 2016

There are reasons why men and women compete separately in physical activities and sports. The primary reason is biology: due to the testosterone that circulates in male bodies starting from the first week after conception, male humans develop with more muscle and bone mass, larger hearts and lungs, more oxygen-bearing red blood cells, longer limbs, and less body fat than female humans on average. If you think cyclists shooting up with additional testosterone in the doping scandals was unfair to the non-dopers, men have been doping with testosterone since even before birth, compared to women.

Among the best of the world’s best, the physical advantage of male elite athletes is also apparent. Across dozens of sports, women’s world speed records fall 10% short of the men’s records. In sports where speed and strength determine the win, this trend remains even as more women have begun to compete.

(Granted, in ultra-distance competitions, the men’s advantage diminishes due to women’s higher pain threshold and endurance on average, plus the higher amount of fat in women’s bodies. But here we’re talking about a 10-kilometer race.)

To make men and women compete against each other when the men have an obvious physical advantage is unfair and contributes even further to discrimination against women. The way to ensure equality and a level playing field, then, is to make men compete with other men, and women compete with other women, and offer the male and female winners the same prize money/items.

It was such a lovely day and I felt awesome from start to finish. From the technical side, Pep Squad Events/Pinoy Fitness did a really great job manning the course and hydration. I was just bothered by the fact that only the men’s leaders had a motorized escort — that should have been my clue that not was all was right with the world.

So it was such a downer that all the good stuff was overshadowed by Run for Life and ENGLICOM’s gender insensitivity. Furthermore, they didn’t even disclose on any of their publicity materials that they were only awarding top three overall regardless of sex. To add insult to injury, this was supposed to be a Valentine’s Day run and anyone would have thought they’d give as much importance to women as men.

I approached the people from Run for Life and ENGLICOM post-race and gave them a piece of my mind. I told them not having a women’s podium was disrespectful to the women athletes, and that I was disappointed in what they had done. (I can’t even imagine why the women in that organizing committee thought this was in any way a good idea!) It is my hope that ENGLICOM and other race organizers take note and not make this same mistake in future races.

Run for Life: A Love Run
Thanks to Lightwater, T***, and Salice Eyewear Philippines for their support in my training and racing.

I’m sorry, I really wanted to like this race and have a great race report for you to read. Who was given awards may not have mattered to anyone but the fastest women across the three distances, so I suppose they thought they wouldn’t be offending too many people with this policy. Unfortunately, I stand for empowering women toward pursuing an active lifestyle. I believe a level playing field for all is key. Had I known, I would not have recommended this race to my readers at all.

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18 comments on “Run for Life was Unfair to Women

    1. It’s not the first time this has happened in a local race. I have heard it happens in small community races. In recent memory, the Rogin-E Last Man Standing did this to avoid needing to pay out its large cash prize to both a man and a woman. I boycotted announcing that race on this blog because of that.

      1. We also experienced this during last years Petron Aquathlon. My daughter finished forth overall in her age category, first female. However, only the top 3 from each category was recognized. The top 3 were all boys.

  1. Wow! At may ganitong race pa pala today that don’t recognize top female runners… I’m pretty sure Noelle that you’ve beaten most guys here. And that in itself is a slap to the organizers faces!😆

    1. Event small races in the provinces have separate male and female categories… lame excuse if their reason is the race budget. Prang naging anti-women ang organizer. Equal rights in other fields is another thing… pero for a run race? What were they thinking?! Di ba?

  2. The female athlete you mentioned is a student of mine. Her name is Gabriella Venturina. She’s an aspiring triathlete but we’re taking it slow. She’s not a trackster but we do prefer to run on the track. When I first saw her she was running slow and with bad form. At that time, she was training for her first 21km. I told her she was too slow. We then worked on speed training and concentrated on 3-5km races. That was about 6 months ago. Now she’s winning her races. Thank you for the mention

  3. Hmmm… I agree that they should’ve made a separate category of winners for males and females. But I do not agree with you on your point that what they did could be considered as discrimination against us, women. In fact, I believe not having a separate category shows that they value equality more than anything else. They acknowledge the fact that women can compete head to head against men and treat them at the same level. Anyways they made a mistake, but we’re also just so used to being given the handicap since gender equality doesn’t really exist so yeah… (Although difficult, we can still defy that said physical advantage men have, I won a 5k race back in my days, won against everyone including the guys although it was just a local race)

    1. I believe in sport, gender equality can be assured with EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. There is no equal opportunity when men (including the elite men) are on average 10% faster than women. This just virtually guarantees that only men will get on the podium except for the rare female physical specimen.

      And not to take away anything from your win because we can only race against those who show up (I have taken advantage of weak fields as well), but ask yourself where those men you beat would normally place in a larger race with their times.

    1. It’s still equal rights when we fight for equal opportunity among peers. Women are warranted an equal crack at the same prizes as the men. This is why the men’s podium and the women’s podium should have the same value of prizes. Even the Olympics separates the men’s and women’s competition. I already discussed the science and logic behind the separate divisions.

      You try pitting a woman against a man in a contact sport like boxing and tell me that’s an equally-matched fight.

  4. Oh no. I recommended this run to my readers too (My blog was tapped by the organizers to be one of their sponsors). You have a valid point here. I did not know that they didn’t separate the men’s category from the women’s category. :| Isn’t that supposed to be the norm? DLSU Triathlon was one of the event’s partner organizations. They could’ve asked for tips on how to properly organize such an activity.

    I agree that Pep Squad Events/Pinoy Fitness did a great job manning the course and hydration. I appreciated their warm smiles and cheers. They were the best part of the run.

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