Our fourth debate of the week!  Our previous debates included: Do you acknowledge strangers when exercising outdoors?, When on a run, do you do a little jig at red lights or come to a complete stop?, and Do you secretly race others at the gym?


Today’s topic: Women’s Races.

In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the number and size of women’s races.  As far as I know, no race specifically forbids men from entering these races (that would probably open them up to legal issues?).  But the races are billed as women’s events and, at many of these women-specific races, chants of “Girl power!” and “Let’s go, ladies!” ring out along the course, signage is printed in pink and purple, race shirts are dotted with flowers and hearts, and race medals are shaped as tiaras (as is the case for the Disney Princess race) or Tiffany charms (the San Francisco women’s half).  So while men aren’t forbidden to enter, they are certainly discouraged in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.


I’ve done three women’s events and had a blast at each of them:


Ramblin’ Rose Super Sprint Triathlon – September 25, 2011

More/Fitness Half Marathon in New York City – April 3, 2011

IronGirl 15K – April 10, 2010


And actually, I just signed up as a Zooma series race ambassador – Zooma is a women’s race series that takes place at deluxe resorts around the country – and I’ll be doing their upcoming half marathon in January (disclosure: as an ambassador, I attend the race for free).  They’re about to reveal the top-secret location of the January event; if you watch the video below and think you know where Zooma is headed, enter here for a chance to win a swag bag from the resort.

Anyway… so, why are women’s events so popular?  For many women, a women’s event takes a lot of the pressure off.  Especially for women who are new to sports, some ladies feel turned off by the idea of ‘racing’ against men.  I’ve found that women’s events are generally more low-key and less stressful. It’s more about, “Yay! You can do it!”


Also, I’ve found that women’s races are generally better organized and have nicer swag than co-ed events (even if the swag is all pink and purple).  The three women’s events that I’ve done were very professional and operated smoothly – no confusing course directions or annoying lack of water stations.  I’d guess this is because the events often attract big companies interested in marketing to women.  Quality sponsors inevitably means a better race experience!

One thing that many people debate is whether it’s fair to ‘exclude’ men from certain races.  After all, I don’t know of a single men’s-only race.  As a matter of fact, I think a men’s race would get tremendously bad press – almost like it would be discriminating against ladies!  But hardly anyone wonders if a women’s race is sexist against dudes.  And is excluding men from races really a good thing for women?  Do we need our own races?  Or does the practice just further separate the sexes in sports?


At some of the larger women’s races with cash prizes for the top runners, men sometimes enter to {in theory, more easily} snag the prize money.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a man finish first at a women’s race, but let me tell you – the crowd is not super thrilled.  He’ll break the tape with little fanfare, and then everyone will go nuts for the first female finisher. 


My thoughts?  I think women do need women’s races; like I said, the atmosphere is very supportive, encouraging, and lighthearted, and I think that gets more women ‘in the door’ to being active, which is a very good thing. I also believe that women need their own events in a way that most men probably do not.  I love the quality of swag from women’s races but wish the race shirts came in another color besides stereotypical pink or purple with flowers.  And lastly, I don’t believe the races are unfair to dudes because they can enter if they want.  Although, I admit that I would definitely judge a dude who ran a women’s race just to win it.  That’s not cool.  Not cool at all.


How do you feel about women’s races?  Ever get a non-pink or purple shirt from a women’s race?  Would you clap for a man who won a women’s event – after all, he ran pretty fast! – or would you roll your eyes?



  • Beth July 25, 2012, 7:37 am

    I guess I have mixed feelings about Women’s races (I’ve never done one). I do a lot of races with my husband, and I like that we can both participate in events. I know the point of the races is to encourage women to participate in running events, but almost all races I run have way more female entrants than male entrants, so why discourage men?

  • Michelle @ Eat Move Balance July 25, 2012, 7:44 am

    I participated in the “Dirty Girl Mud Run” last month, and it was my first girls-only event. You know, I thought it was great! Women of all ages, ability levels, and backgrounds were having a blast and everyone was supporting each other to help through the obstacles. It was really neat to see the camaradarie. I think having some events that are women only is a great idea!

  • Jordan @ Bake Write Sleep July 25, 2012, 7:48 am

    As long as they don’t have a rule against men joining, I don’t see a problem with it.

  • Carolyn L. July 25, 2012, 7:53 am

    I did my first triathlon in a women’s only race (IronGirl). It helped me get a foot in the door, I felt. They were super-welcoming to beginners–helping me set up my bike and directing newbies.

    My next tri was co-ed, and I felt A LOT more comfortable with that one after my all-girls “practice run.”

  • Amanda July 25, 2012, 7:56 am

    I’ve never raced in a women’s only race but I do agree with you and the idea of women’s only races. I know that many women do feel pressure when there are men around and a supportive environment is just what most of us girls need when exercising and pursuing personal goals. There is a men’s only race in Ontario called “Olga’s Boys Night Out” (the title is a little strange). It’s a 5k and 10k distance and there is a 1k distance for women only. I’ve never participated and I don’t know anyone who has so I don’t know what the environment is like. But the fact that women can only do the 1k in this race seems to be giving the message that women can’t run longer distances. I feel that something like that is less inclusive and separates the sexes even more than an exclusively all-male or all-female race.

  • Erin July 25, 2012, 7:57 am

    The very first 5K I ever did was called the Women’s Fitness 5K…and our shirt was light blue. But it was a women’s cut and I wore that thing to death.

  • Tess July 25, 2012, 7:59 am

    I haven’t participated in any women-only races, but I think it’s great, especially for women who feel more comfortable with it. There two main reasons I don’t think it’s problematic NOT to have parallel men-only races:

    (1) We HAD men-only races, lots of them, until relatively recently. The Boston Marathon didn’t allow women until 1972 — within the lifetime of many of the women who might participate in women-only events these days. There’s a history of women being excluded from sporting events, and a lot of events are still very male-dominated, even if they “allow” women. Some women might find that inspiring, and push themselves to compete and excel and be accepted — but others might find that intimidating. Let’s not exclude those who might be intimidated from having a chance to race.

    (2) Men are likely to be faster than women at most races over most distances, just due to biology. It’s only really at ultra distances that you see women win outright. There’s a sense in which men and women are competing in two different events already, so why not have a race that a woman will win outright? (And this makes me really annoyed at any man who enters a women’s race in order to win it.)

    • mw January 4, 2014, 1:38 pm

      I have no problem with women-only races. However, I do not like gender discrimition in any form and therefor I like men-only races too. Hoever, they have been rule illegaly when feminists have challenged men-only events as gender discrimination. The argument goes that women-only races are needed to encourage women and taht the men have the ‘whole world’ as their space. Apparaently it seems that it has not occured to feminists that some men prefer to run in the company of men only and these men are ridiculed!

  • Meryl July 25, 2012, 8:05 am

    I see no problem with racing events catered to women as long as men are allowed to participate. I would definitely support any man that I saw participating. I can in fact think of one race that women are not allowed to participate though, the Tour de France. They did have a women’s version for a while but there were issues with the trademark and it eventually was stopped.

  • julie @ peanut butter fingers July 25, 2012, 8:06 am

    I’ve done one women’s race (Women’s Half Marathon in St. Pete, Fla. last November) and it was a lot of fun (though CRAZY hot!). The atmosphere was very supportive, upbeat and empowering. There were a few guys that ran the race and it didn’t bother me a bit, but they also weren’t running to try and smoke the ladies. I got the impression that most of the men running were somehow related or connected to a woman running the race.

    I, too, just agreed to work with ZOOMA and told my husband about a half that I’d like to do with them and he was all about it, saying he’d gladly train and run with me. Then he realized it was a women’s race and said he’d feel “unwanted” and goofy running as a guy in a women’s race. The founder of ZOOMA said 10 – 15% of runners in their races are men which made my husband feel better. He’s not crazy-competitive and would just be running to support me (and pace me – phew!), so I think he maaay do it since we had a good time running and training together for a previous half marathon last fall. I can guarantee you he’ll be running right there WITH me during the race though if he decides to do it, for fear of feeling like the only guy running!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 25, 2012, 8:14 am

    Hmm… I’m not sure where my opinion falls on this one. I know it’s kind of unfair to exclude men, but they had the Olympics all to themselves for so long… maybe we’re just making up for lost time!? 😉 I have no probs with pink and purple swag… or Tiffany’s charms!

  • Cindy July 25, 2012, 8:17 am

    I did a women’s 5K last year and the tshirt was bright orange, it was awful! I did a women’s 10K earlier this year (both in the UK) and the top was pink. 😐

    I found that the 10K was better organized and flowed better and had plenty of water stations, and impromptu ones from people in the community! The 5K had no water stations, which really surprised me as all of the 5K’s I had done previously (in the US) had water stations.

    I’m trying to find a 5K for the fall, but I worry about doing another here with the weather. I do not run fast in general, and running in rain slows me even more, pink tshirt or not!

  • Katie July 25, 2012, 8:20 am

    I don’t really like women’s races to begin with…I know it’s supposed to make women feel more comfortable racing, but to me it always seemed more like “Here, have a baby race with a bunch of other girls before you go run with the big dogs” *shrug*. With that said, I don’t really see a problem with men running in them. ((Also, the Disney Princess half is definitely not a woman’s race! I’ve been a volunteer the past few years and my absolute favorite part is watching all the guys running in tutus!))

  • Kelly July 25, 2012, 8:36 am

    I can see how some women would feel more comfortable with women’s only races but for me it doesn’t matter one way or the other.

  • Katie July 25, 2012, 8:41 am

    My first triathlon was a women’s only triathlon. It was a great introduction to the sport since I hadn’t done many races and I was super nervous. This year I’m doing one co-ed tri and one women only tri. I think it’s great that they exist. They seem less competitive which is encouraging for women new to racing. And there are enough other races out there that if a race being women only bothers you, choose another one.

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) July 25, 2012, 8:41 am

    As you note, there aren’t really men’s only races, and if there were, people would pitch a fit. If women are scared of running on the same road as men, how on earth do they function in the workplace?

    Also, I despise how many of these races have “girl” in the title even though most participants are adults. WOMEN NOT GIRLS.

    • Caitlin July 25, 2012, 9:07 am


  • Samantha Angela July 25, 2012, 8:51 am

    Women’s only races are a good way for women to start into racing. Many women feel more comfortable and less intimidated by Women’s Only events.

    I don’t think that men are offended by these types of events. They don’t exclude men for sexist reasons, and I think that most men understand that women are outnumbered in a lot of co-ed events and want an environment where they can compete by themselves.

    It’s completely different than times when women weren’t allowed to compete in sporting events, like marathons, because they were considered ‘incapable’.

  • Joanne July 25, 2012, 8:52 am

    Not sure why but I prefer mixed gender events. I guess I enjoy passing some of those men 😉

  • Nikki July 25, 2012, 8:55 am

    Women’s-only races are not the same as men’s-only races, and are not sexist. The ‘isms (racism, sexism, etc…) require power to operate. A safe space for one particular marginalized group is not enough to classify it as sexist. Power + prejudice = sexism/racism/etc; that *power* is a necessary element. There are very legitamite histories of sexism in sporting events stemming from men’s power. But women do not have this same power in the history of sports, and so do not have the capacity to create sexist events. Some women have very legitamite needs for men-free spaces… It’s not just about pink, of course… It’s about safety.

    • Caitlin July 25, 2012, 9:07 am

      Grea comment!!

  • Crystal July 25, 2012, 8:56 am

    For a long time, women were excluded from participating in many races and sporting events, so those events were male-only. So I think there’s nothing wrong with women having female-only races to help even things out a little!

  • Ida July 25, 2012, 9:03 am

    I’ve done is nike women and a see jane run event. It’s a fun race with nice swag but it’s $$$! I don’t think it is well organized and it’s not a good event for anyone who wants to race.
    I have no problem with women-centric events, there is a niche market and they cater to that.
    Nike does have a men’s race, and as far as i know it doesn’t get a lot of flack (though women can participate just as men can enter nike women’s)

  • Nikki @ only25hoursinaday July 25, 2012, 9:07 am

    I love the idea of women’s races – infact, a friend and I are thinking of signing up for the Durham Ramblin’ Rose 1/2 Marathon on 10/21! It will be our first 1/2 marathon!

    I’m excited to hear more about your involvement with ZOOMA – I just recently found out about their events and I think it’s such a great idea! Maybe you’ll sponsor a giveaway to one of their upcoming races?!?! 😉

  • Lindsey July 25, 2012, 9:09 am

    I think they are great! I have done a ladies only Tri and one other run that wasn’t a girls only but 98% women. I like them since I get the girl power vibes from them. I would never care if I man joined in though.

  • Nicole G July 25, 2012, 9:20 am

    Just wanted to add that locally (eastern PA) there is a Women’s 5k in which ZERO men are permitted to run. They are allowed to work the expo, volunteer along the course, offer moral support, etc, but not a single man is permitted to register for the run or walk, which, honestly, is kinda cool. I don’t need every race to be “women only”, but for those events (this one is specifically run to raise money for local breast cancer research/treatment) that are, I agree it can be very empowering. I don’t think it’s wrong to celebrate the fact that men and women are inherently different.

  • Aundra | Fit for Life July 25, 2012, 9:23 am

    My favorite race to date was a women’s race – ZOOMA Women’s Race series in Annapolis. The company is run by women. Men were there, but just a few.

    The race shirt was black – no pink or purple! hehe.

  • Michelle July 25, 2012, 9:24 am

    I’ve done two women’s only races – the NYRR Mini 10k (which is the oldest women’s only race in the US) and the Diva’s Half Marathon. Do I particularly seek out women’s only races – no – but if I end up doing one it doesn’t make much difference to me one way or another. Several women’s only races that allow men have them start back a corral or two even if their time would place them in the first, just so that they can’t win over a woman. I believe the Disney Princess race changed to this method after a guy broke the tape first in its inaugural year.

    As I watched the video for the Zooma Next Location, I have to say I really didn’t appreciate the ‘digs’ aspect of the Rock N Roll series or Diva series. It’s fine to say your race is not like those, but did they really need to knock down other races that people sign up and do and are somehow running inferior races because they are crowded or too girly? I’ll be the first to say I am a girly girl to the max and even *I* thought the Diva race was over the top girly, but that’s the direction they’ve chosen to go in and you know that going into it.

  • Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot July 25, 2012, 9:25 am

    I would like to participate in a women-geared race sometime to see what it is like. To a certain extent, I think women need to join together and encourage each other at women specific events but on the other hand, I don’t like that we are further segregating ourselves and placing women seemingly in a different running skill set with races like these – there are plenty of women who run faster than the majority of men (not me though !) But if it comes down to women participating in women’s only events or not at all, than I say these events are awesome and fill that gap! Just as long as men have an opportunity to participate as well 🙂

    But I would vote for different color shirts sometimes though 🙂

  • Ali @ Around the VeggieTable July 25, 2012, 9:29 am

    What is a Zooma Ambassador and how do I become one?? It sounds fun 🙂

  • Katie July 25, 2012, 9:37 am

    My first triathlon was all women (Pink Power here in Richmond, VA) and I was very thankful it was set up this way. I felt less intimidated and it was a great first impression of triathlon. I recommend it to any of my female friends who are just getting started in the sport.

    But yes, unfortunately the swag shirt for this race was pink. I’m not much a pink shirt girl, but what the hey- it was my first Tri shirt so I wear it proudly 🙂

  • Courtney July 25, 2012, 9:42 am

    I think a women’s race would make me feel less intimidated – whether I like to admit it or not, working out with guys can sometimes be a little too testosteroney for me. 😛

  • Lauryn July 25, 2012, 9:43 am

    I agree, I think Women’s races are needed and great. I think that when a group is pushed down for so long (and still is in some areas of life) having events geared towards them exclusively is powerful and positive. Eventually it would be nice for things to just be completely fair across the board for women, and other minority groups, but its just not how it is right now. These groups need and deserve things like this!

  • Erin July 25, 2012, 9:45 am

    Hi Caitlin, I am loving your workout debate series – so fun and interesting!

    Anyways, last year I ran my first 10K, the Tufts 10k in Boston (all women) and loved it. I remember running the first mile in awe of being surrounded by so many women that were choosing health and fitness. In SEptember I’ll be participating in Diva Dash as well and can’t wait. I love the community and energy at women only events and I’ve never heard a man complain. So I say keep ’em up! 🙂

  • Kristy Doyle July 25, 2012, 9:51 am

    I think they are great, but I think you bring up a good point. If there was a men-only event, I feel like women would get offended, mainly because we have more of a history of being excluded from things. However, I don’t think there is a real controversy here. Like you said, I don’t think men are literally excluded from the event, I just think that these races are billed as events for women, therefore they attract women.

  • Courtney Leigh July 25, 2012, 10:12 am

    I really like the idea of women-only triathlons. I feel like for most big road races you’re going to have closer to a 50/50 split gender wise, but that’s not the same for tris. Most of the co-ed ones I know of have many more male participants than women. In a recent local tri the field was 75% male. It can be super intimidating for first timers, especially those of us who are slow. (Or those of us who aren’t first timers but are still slow.) I raced a co-ed tri last month and came in dead last. It didn’t bother me, but if it was my first race… I would have felt so uncomfortable! I’m racing the same distance on Saturday in a women’s only race and know that I’ll be finishing closer to the middle and even if I wasn’t, the whole atmosphere is different. It’s about FINISHING, not racing.

  • Angie July 25, 2012, 10:27 am

    I’ve done 2 women’s races (Iron Girl Tri and Iron Girl Half Marathon) and the Disney Princess Half, which has a number of men participating even though it’s women-centered. I like the women’s races because of the camaraderie and the encouragement it gives for women who are just starting out and are nervous. I had done a co-ed tri on the same course before I did the Iron girl tri, so clearly I have nothing against co-ed events. However, I enjoyed the swim much more when I didn’t have to deal with large men in my way 🙂

    I am a slow racer (closer to back of the pack), so I don’t have a prayer of being on the podium ever. The reality of men’s and women’s physiology is that the fastest men are always going to be faster than the fastest women, which is why there are different categories in races, so I think it would be pretty shady for men to enter women’s races just for the prize money.

  • Elle July 25, 2012, 10:37 am

    My only (indirect) experience of a women-only race is the Great Pink Run here in Dublin http://www.greatpinkrun.ie, although it is not really women-only. Men can participate too (in fact, last year the winner was a man -duh), and the only condition for everybody racing is that they wear something pink. This is for a race created to sponsor breast cancer research, so I don’t mind the “pinkness” (but I would mind a man winning a teeny bit). Other than that I think that women-only can be more “fun” and give you an extra boost (“hey I’m running with my girls” kind of feeling – although that can be achieved in any race, just run with your girl friends). I imagine that women-only races are especially made for this (the fun, the charity, etc) and not as much for the competition aspect – otherwise it’s like any other standard race, where, I assume, men and women are classified differently.

  • Lauren T July 25, 2012, 10:40 am

    I think having women’s races is great because it’s a more encouraging atmosphere especially for beginner runners. Also, I think that sense of “community” and the more social aspect of women’s races is more important to women than men sometimes. I don’t necessarily think the women’s races are out there for women to win, but they are there to provide a more inviting atmosphere. Men can participate in the other races, so I don’t think it’s a problem to exclude them from women’s races.

  • Susan July 25, 2012, 10:44 am

    I belong to a woman only gym and it is fab-U-lous.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life July 25, 2012, 10:45 am

    I’d clap for the guy because he had the “balls” to do an all-women race in the first place. Maybe the race is for a good cause that his wife or mother, sister, daughter, etc. has been effected by and he wanted to help support the cause. Even if he can run faster and blow the ladies away if he is there for a good reason there is no need for an eye roll. But if he signed up for no other reason than to smoke all the women and come in first than shame on him and a good solid eye roll is completely deserved!

  • Katie July 25, 2012, 10:50 am

    I did the nike women’s marathon in san francisco and it was really neat. There about 900 men registered for that race and approximately 15,000 women. Interesting about the double standard. I don’t really have an opinion, but I do know my tiffany necklace was a pretty cool finisher’s medal, but no better than another big medal!

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 25, 2012, 10:51 am

    Hmm…this is a good topic!

    I’ve only ran one race before, and it was co-ed, so I don’t have any experience with them. In theory though – I think they’re a good idea. I grew up with the Spice Girls, so anythign “Girl Power” appeals to me.

    Honestly, I would probably roll my eyes if a man won a women’s race. I think it kind of defeats the purpose if a man wins! Physically, they’re built to be faster/stronger than women (unfortunate but true) so a man entering a race that 99% women gives him a bit of an advantage.

    And I hate pink but purple is my favourite colour – so I’d have a 50/50 shot of being happy with the race shirt 🙂

  • Kati July 25, 2012, 10:54 am

    I just did a women-only triathlon (Sherox series) and I loved it! Not only did I get a cute pink shirt that fits better than any other race shirt I’ve received, the atmosphere was just..different. More supportive, more fun, less competitive. I’m definitely signing up for another women-only event.

    • Sarah July 25, 2012, 4:04 pm

      I’m thinking of signing up the the San Diego sherox tri this year. It will be my first all women event. I’m happy to hear that you had a good experience!

  • Rachel O. July 25, 2012, 10:58 am

    My first half was the women’s half in nashville and i loved it – i signed up because it WAS a women’s only race and i thought it did take the pressure off. the support for that race was better than any other i’ve been too – so many families, dads, boyfriends, husbands, and kids cheering on the lady in their life. it was inspirational and empowering.

  • Ashley July 25, 2012, 10:59 am

    I am actually opposed to this (please note, this is only my opinion. Women have the right to enter and support any business that appeals to them. This just doesn’t appeal to me at all). I think it’s great for beginning women to have the safety and security of a small girls-only race, but it bothers me that people think we NEED it. Women don’t need special treatment! We can run with men!

    Additionally, it’s unfair to men. A men’s only race would garner HUGE opposition. Why? Because it’s unfair to say “no girls allowed.” Why is it so different to say “no boys allowed”? Because again, the notion is that women are soft and need special treatment.

    I also think it doesn’t help women at all. Racing against faster, tougher opponents (often men) makes me run harder! The women’s races seem to be about “finishing,” like that is the best that a woman can do. Why shouldn’t we encourage the best and fastest to participate regardless of sex?

    Quite frankly, I don’t want to give $$ to an organization that thinks, just because I’m a girl, I’m soft and need special treatment. I also won’t give $$ to a race that is all about posing for pictures with princesses. If I enter a race, I want to RACE! Not flit around in costume.

    That said, the swag IS better. 😉

    Anyways, clearly there is a market for this stuff because they are making money…but it’s not coming from me.

    • Stephanie C July 25, 2012, 6:19 pm

      I completely agreed with you until I read the comment above by Nikki… take a look. I’m curious to know what you think after reading it.

  • Ashley July 25, 2012, 11:03 am

    Also, I think it’s interesting that you would judge a dude for entering a women’s race and winning. Would you judge a woman for entering a man’s race and winning? Do you judge Switzer, who ran the Boston Marathon before women were officially allowed?

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 25, 2012, 11:06 am

    I LOVE the idea of women’s races and would love to sign up for one if I find one in the area! Since they don’t completely exclude men, I think it’s perfectly fine. Women are often put down when it comes to sports and I think these events are a great way to encourage women to get out there and go for it! Races can definitely be intimidating and I think these all-women races provide a much more supportive atmosphere.

    • Caitlin July 25, 2012, 2:28 pm

      I completely agree, Katie! Very well said.

  • Rachel July 25, 2012, 11:09 am

    It seems to me that these “Women’s Only” events just further perpetuate gender separation in our society.

    There are no “African American Only!” races or “Poor People Only!” races; why are there “Women Only!” races? Why not start viewing EVERYONE as EQUAL, including women?

    I mean, can we really expect to be viewed as equal, and worthy of equal pay and respect in the workplace, if we insist on separating ourselves from men?

    • Beks July 25, 2012, 1:11 pm

      Hear hear!

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 25, 2012, 12:09 pm

    There’s definitely something about the atmosphere that is conducive to women. It’s like the women’s only gyms that are out there. There’s some women who need that positive and supportive atmosphere that they just don’t necessarily get from being in a co-ed workout environment.

  • Annette@FitnessPerks July 25, 2012, 12:13 pm

    I’ve never done an ONLY woman’s race, but I think it would be super fun! I am a girly-girl to the core, so I love pink, think heels and fun ladies’ swag is awesome, and would love to have that exciting race ‘feel’ with a bunch of women.

    However, men tend to make me more competitive because they (generalized) are usually faster –so that is a fun side of competitiveness that wouldn’t be there, maybe?

  • Alex @ Healthy Life Happy Wife July 25, 2012, 12:37 pm

    I just ran the Mini 10k in NYC which was an all women race. I thought it was a lot of fun! And our shirts were orange!! And Desi Davila ran it!! Pretty cool IMHO!

  • Sam July 25, 2012, 12:44 pm

    I think that women’s races are fine, but hate the gender stereotyping that goes along with it – pink shirts, jewelry or chocolate or cupcakes handed out, tiaras or tutus encouraged. This all seems like a step back to me, and a very narrow view of what it means to be a woman.

    Imagine if you had a little girl who wanted to run a fun run but the girls all wore pink and had tiaras and were given cupcakes after – would we be as supportive of that? What if your little girl didn’t like pink or tiaras or cupcakes? How would she feel? Maybe I’m overthinking it, but it doesn’t really sit right with me.

    • Joy @ The Joy Vey July 25, 2012, 3:33 pm

      I totally understand where you’re coming from. I don’t really have a problem with a woman-geared race, but as a woman who is not nor has ever really been about the pink and frills, it almost feels even more distancing. Like it’s a race for only “those” types of women. And hey – there’s nothing wrong with those who like it girlier, but if we’re going to have women’s races, it’d be great to see some that break away from traditional stereotypes.

      • Margaret July 25, 2012, 4:38 pm

        My first half marathon was the Hippie Chick in Portland, and it really wasn’t “girly”. The finishing medal is a necklace, which now that I think about it might have flowers in the design, but the shirt from this year was yellow (bright bright bright yellow…I wish it was pink, I’d be more likely to wear it) and I’ve seen a shirt from another year that was green. The swag bags/backpacks were orange. The logo on the shirts is a vw van with a peace symbol on it. There were girls in sequined skirts, but no more so than any other race I’ve done. There were also a handful of guys out of 6,000-ish people.

        Just to say, non-girly women-only races are out there! Running in a tiara and tutu is really not appealing to me. For me, it was simply less intimidating to not feel like I was “competing” against men (not that was I really “competing”… I’m still a relatively slow runner), and I think the atmosphere can be more supportive.

  • Kelly July 25, 2012, 1:01 pm

    I love women’s only races. I don’t mind all of the pink and purple either. I just bought pink goggles that I plan to wear at my half ironman in the fall. I like wearing pink and doing something badass at the same time. Women Power!

  • Beks July 25, 2012, 1:09 pm

    I’ve always thought it was a little unfair that women get their own events, but men don’t get their own. I think it’s just a double-standard that people have come to accept.

  • Brie July 25, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I am really not a fan of women’s races as they stand now. I did a women’s themed 5K once, and the whole thing felt really kind of demeaning and stereotypical–like the race shirt and logo had women running in heels with shopping bags. I mean, really? And everything is always pink, pink, pink. I feel like it makes women look kind of one-dimensional and shallow.

  • Carina July 25, 2012, 2:11 pm

    In Dallas there are a couple events very catered to each sex — an “undie” run for guys (special shirts for prostate cancer survivors), and “heels and hills” run for women (again, I HATE that stereotyping like women are just all about heels and frilly stuff). I’ve never done a women’s only event, but even when I started racing, I’m not sure what would have intimidated me about having a guy around — when I started, I certainly wasn’t fast, so any guy running near me would have been just as fat, slow, whatever, as I was. But I wonder if Boston is going to keep becoming more and more women, as it’s so much easier (relatively speaking) for women to qualify. You have plenty of women in the first age bracket who beat their required time by more than 15 minutes — not so much for guys.

  • Caitlin July 25, 2012, 2:26 pm

    I was eating a Luna bar as I sat here reading this, and even having products marketed towards women, like Luna bars, makes me feel better- like us women are being looked after by each other.

    I definitely support all women’s events for the same reason. While this may only increase the gender gap, it also brings us together, and I don’t see anything better than working with a group of people that understand how I work as a human.

    I also agree that women’s races can lose the pink/purple and frills, but that’s not a deal breaker for me.

  • Amber K July 25, 2012, 3:22 pm

    Well I think I’m in the minority, but I wouldn’t be offended by a men’s-only race. As a woman, I want equality. And to me that means if I want something for women-only, I have to be okay with something that is men-only.

  • Tori July 25, 2012, 3:35 pm

    Nike organised a women’s only 14K in Sydney, Australia where I live called “She Runs the Night” in Sydney’s largest park, Centennial Park. The race shirts were black & lime green with glow in the dark letters on the front – not pink or purple in sight! It was a very ‘girl power’ event and loads of fun, with a welcome absence of any of the princess/Tiffany/pink/purple cliches!

  • Melissa H. July 25, 2012, 3:49 pm

    I did the Nike Womens Half last year. My husband ran with me. There’s also All Women and One Lucky Guy in Massachusetts, where only one guy is allowed in, and the guys pay to enter the lottery and be the one guy. The shirt last year was red. I was registered but couldn’t run it, because I was injured. Prior to that I did the Tufts Womens 10k in Boston. I think I’ve done enough all womens races for awhile though.

  • Amanda July 25, 2012, 4:27 pm

    I haven’t run a women’s-only race, but I’d like to run one to see the differences from a mixed gender race. The pink/purple swag might bug me a bit. I hate pink!

  • Susan - Nurse on the Run July 25, 2012, 5:08 pm

    The only women only race that I’ve done was a SheRox tri in Philly a couple years ago. As someone who does races to RACE them, not just finish them, I don’t always appreciate the “yay! We’re great just for being here!” atmosphere. I do think it’s nice that an all women’s race gives women the chance to out-right win a race versus a race with men where men win most of the time. I do like the competition and camaraderie with the men I am racing around, as they are often supportive…or they try to run faster when they find out a girl is around them. 🙂

    If it gets people out and moving, I would consider it a good thing, but I don’t like that women only events are something that we as women feel we need in order to race.

  • Marissa C July 25, 2012, 5:56 pm

    I don’t mind women only races, but I wish there could be men only races without certain self-appointed feminists having a raging hissy fit.

    That is all.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB July 25, 2012, 6:47 pm

    I’m very anti-women’s racing. We’ve worked so, so, so hard to bust through the glass ceiling, get the vote and earn as much and yet we want to exclude ourselves in an athletic environment? And I’m totally not a pink tutu wearing gal that likes to shout “you go girl,” so this is obviously not my thing.

  • Jamie July 25, 2012, 7:07 pm

    I was a GOTR coach this spring and our 5k was not our event, but we tagged onto an already existing race- the Heart and Sole. It was strictly women only– dads could not run as solemates or race buddies. I didn’t like it and it created challenges for girls whose mothers had no interest in racing 🙁

  • Ali July 25, 2012, 8:34 pm

    I had never heard of Zooma before, but the Great Lakes race is about 30-40 minutes from my house! I was going to sign up for a half in September but was concerned that I wouldn’t be trained in time and was worried about the 4 hour drive one way to the race. I’m so excited! 🙂 I haven’t done a women’s only race but as a female who was extremely uncomfortable with her body (i.e. large chest), I think I would feel more comfortable running with all women instead of in front of men.

  • luv what you do July 25, 2012, 10:02 pm

    My mom and I did the TREK women’s tri last summer and I loved it!

    We got a white Tshirt with orange writing which was super cute. I wish I was able to do it again this year. I loved the feeling of all the women power!

  • Liz July 26, 2012, 1:06 am

    Zooma ambassador must be the hot thing to do these days! You’re the 3rd blogger that I’ve read in the 2 days that’s going to be doing that 😉

    • Liz July 26, 2012, 1:07 am

      *Last* 2 days

  • Claire July 26, 2012, 2:32 am

    Not interested in women’s only events. I want to run fast, and running with lots of blokes who on average run faster than women encourages me to push myself. But then I’m not big into running events anyway, I’m a fairly solitary runner. Exception being marathons, only cause then someone puts out drink stations for me! But as far as swag and medals etc, ho hum. If I get a medal I want to earn it for winning my division, not simply for finishing.

  • Julia H. @ Going Gulia July 26, 2012, 11:23 am

    Funny you should bring this up: I’m currently training for my first half marathon this October, and it happens to be a women-only race! It’s the Divas Half Marathon, and is VERY girly–you even get a tiara & pink boa at mile 12, and receive your medal from hot firemen. Ha. Honestly, it happened to be the only race that worked with my schedule, but I definitely don’t mind the girl power mindset!

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See July 27, 2012, 5:14 pm

    Hmm I have nothing against all-women races, but I don’t have any problem with co-ed races either. A balance seems like a good way to go 🙂

  • Jen July 28, 2012, 10:49 am

    I think women’s races can be great to get more women involved in sports. The truth is that some women are intimidated by racing with the men, so if you can get them over that hump of signing up for their first race, then maybe they will stick with it. We have an all women’s XC mountain bike race here that is a great event and very popular. Mountain bike racing can be VERY intimidating for some women so having the opportunity to try it out in a less threatening environment is great. It’s a great race too because it’s NOT all pink and “girl power”y. The shwag is awesome too – the shirts actually FIT women and come in a great blue color. I think it’s an awesome event!

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie July 29, 2012, 3:03 pm

    There’s a 5k race here in Kansas City every year on Mother’s Day that doesn’t allow any men to run! I do it every year (except this year as I was 38wks pregnant) and love it! You’re right, it’s more fun to stand in a crowd of women (and GOTR littles!) because you can just turn and chat with them. It grew from a few hundred to over five thousand in just a couple years!

  • Jen August 1, 2012, 9:24 am

    I’ve participated in the Baltimore Women’s Classic which is exclusively for women – no men allowed. (However they encourage men to volunteer ) The atmosphere was great, it was more open and welcoming then co-ed races plus having the men cheer on their ladies was sweet 🙂 And now that I think about it – it was one of the best organized and had the best goodie bag for a low entrance fee!

  • Robert October 3, 2013, 11:27 am

    I found this blog while trying to research if excluding men was even legal. I did not find that answer, but I do find the responses interesting.

    For me, I have a female running partner and wanted to pace her to a great time. We do a lot of races together, and will wear identical outfits — yes, that means a skirt or tutu for me — and we try to go out and have fun with the gender-bending idea. I also wanted to support my teen daughter as she attempted her first half-marathon — one she chose because of the cool medal. I emailed the MALE race director, who acknowledged that people had an issue with excluding men, but chose to continue, not because of the reasons listed above, but get this, because that was the market decision that he made and would not change it unless market forces compelled him to. That is, he saw a way to make money off of women-only races, and didn’t see a reason to change, unless he stopped making money. Upon learning this, my running partner and my daughter chose to not participate in this race.

    I have done several women’s only race, which allowed men, and nobody bats an eye. I ran along friends to pace them at She-Rox (now Esprit de She). I set up running events to make sure that my female running friend can train to reach their goals, and I will go out of my way to run with them, to make sure they are safe. I never go out to upstage women…quite the contrary, it’s obvious that I’m there to support my female running partner and my other female running friends.

    Personally, I think that female-centric races are fine and probably necessary for the reasons people cite above, but I also think that preventing men from registering is a bad move. The likelihood is that most men would not enter because of the nature of the race, unless they had a compelling reason, such as supporting a female loved one or friend. Preventing that support goes counter to the implied reason that there is such an event in the first place…

  • Sean Adkins July 20, 2014, 11:35 am

    Have your “women’s only races” (I have run them and been booed, jeered, and generally shamed for having run such races) but don’t pretend like they are supportive for the men that are running. I run about a 1:45 half and 3:50 full so I am certainly not slowing the race down. I only want to run a race, one that is stationed and fun.
    I am not running them to win the money (obviously, based on my times) but to train. I prefer the races to training alone because of the crowds and support. It’s just fun. I have run more than a handful of these races and not once did I have anyone high-five me along the course, congratulate me after finishing, or make me feel like it was okay to be there. Quite the opposite.
    I have put in the same training time and paid the same (sometimes outrageous) fees, and it stinks to run, finish, and then feel like crap (emotionally) after finishing a race because of the nasty things these “supporters” say when I am walking off the course finish. And I have heard the comments made to other men. Can you imagine the outrage if these things were said to a woman completing a co-ed race?
    Sure, tell me not to run the “women’s only races” or start my own “men’s only races.” It’s not what I want at all. I just want to run. The vast majority of people running, men and women, are doing it for their health, the challenge, and bragging rights for having finished.
    For all the haters: Say what you want when I finish a half or a full. The fact of the matter is I just ran 13.1 or 26.2 miles (which, in the scheme of things, is a drop in the bucket in relation to the number of training miles run to get to that point) while the best you can do is spit your vitriol at a finisher because he committed to something and followed through.

  • vincent November 10, 2014, 1:26 pm

    Despite your comment that men are “certainly discouraged” from participating, according to ZOOMA, men not discouraged, they are encouraged to run ZOOMA events. This is from zooma.com:
    “Both women and men are welcome and encouraged to participate in all ZOOMA Women’s Race Series events. “

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