I Run Like a Girl----Try to Keep Up

It’s called getting “chicked”, and some guys really don’t like it.   What it means is that during your race, be it running, biking or swimming, a woman breaks evolutionary law and passes a man. 

Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it?  Let me tell you from experience, some men find this extremely distasteful, and have no qualms of letting their unhappiness be shown.  Apparently, the insult is even greater if the woman is wearing a ponytail, a skirt, or the color pink.

I’ve been thrown elbows, drafted, trash talked, and otherwise nudged by my disgruntled XY counterparts, after I’ve executed a “chicking” pass   I’ve raced some guys down to the finish line only to be told that I’ve had “a good run, for a girl”.  Damn, I must have missed the fine print on those racing applications where it states that I should lighten up my race, so as not to affect a man’s ego.

I remember way back in elementary school when Halifax Town Soccer first started, and my mom signed up my brother and I.  I was the only girl on the team, and one of only three in the league.  Other than learning an arm-cross technique that was supposed to protect my yet-to-develop boobies (still waiting), I was treated no differently than the boys on the team.   My team mates and I apparently didn’t know that I was supposed to be challenged, charged, or run down just because we used different bathrooms at school.

It is no mystery that I am not a girly girl.  I’ve never had a professional manicure.  I don’t own lipstick.  I spend exactly 15 minutes getting ready in the morning.  I like getting dirty.  I grew up sandwiched between two brothers.  If I need to pass as feminine, I ask my nine year old for advice.  But, based on my yearly mammograms, my biological son, and my visits to my gyn, I am a woman.  More importantly, when I line up at the starting line of a race, I am an athlete.

Wait!  Before this passage gets too negative, I must offer a ray of gender equality.  Apparently, the longer your race, the less anyone cares about what makes you different.  Ironman and iron-distance triathlons do not offer one second more to the allotted finishing time for women vs. men.  That’s right; women have the exact same cut-offs as the men.  Heck, those races don’t even care if you have a physical disability.  (If you have a second, Google “Team Hoyt”)  I even like that they call it “Ironman” vs. some politically correct version, like “Iron-Person” or “Iron Maiden” :).  I earned my title, just like the boys.

I really like this no-excuses form of racing.  In the ultra-world, I can honestly say that gender-equality has reached a utopia that general society could take lessons from.  This is one sports arena where at the start of a race, the overall winner, is not assumed to be male. On an ultra course, I run with men, never against them.  I’ve yet to meet an ultra runner who cares about charging me to the finish line. We run together.  We help each other.  There is a shared suffering mentality, and a distinct lack of ego building.  It is bliss.  More importantly, the sport promotes a sense that finishing is winning.

I am proud to be an athlete.  I am proud to be an example of a different type of woman than my daughter sees on TV.  I thank the heavens for women like Katherine Switzer, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Pam Reed who have opened up this sport to me.  I appreciate the wonderful runners I have met on ultra-courses (both men and women) who have broken down gender boundaries. 

And, if you are a man who worries about being passed by a girl in a skirt--- 
I run like a girl, try to keep up.


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