I’ve never participated in a “women only” event. From the Nike Women’s Marathon to the Zooma Half Marathon to Rambling Rose events, women-only events are a “safe” environment for women to explore endurance events without the leering eyes and testosterone-driven competition.
Since 2005, more women than men participate in half marathons annually. With this influx of female interest in half marathons (men continue to outnumber women in full marathon participation), race promoters have tapped into the same kind of girl power that drives women-only gyms to produce uplifting races with schwag such as Tiffany’s necklaces, tiaras, spa services, champagne, chocolate, and other goodies that all women supposedly love. Apart from the fact that I’m not much of a girly girl, I find it somewhat offensive that corporations would pinhole me as a champagne- and jewelry-loving softie who signs up for a race due to the promise of all things pink and fuzzy and anti-competition. Maybe if they gave away IPA at the end of the race, I’d change my mind
I understand the appeal: without the social pressure to appeal effortlessly appealing to men at all times, even while sweaty, dirty, and huffing and puffing, women can reach their athletic potential and bond with other women over fitness accomplishments. But so far, I’ve avoided these types of events. I find women-only events to be somewhat demeaning, and I like the even playing field that accompanies a race where men and women of all different walks of life, from fit to fat, compete against themselves and each other.
I think the only time I’d participate in a women-only event is for a bachelorette party, when girlishness runs rampant and an athletic event would balance some of that out for me. Until then, I won’t discriminate against running with both sexes.