To: John Temperton, Chair of English Cross Country Association & Domestic Competition Manager at UK Athletics

Equalise cross-country races for men and women in England

Equalise cross-country races for men and women in England

Cross-country races should be the same distance for men & women, and for girls & boys within each age group.

Why is this important?

Women & men race over the same distances on the roads and on the track, but in cross-country the women's races are often much shorter, sometimes barely more than half of the men's distance. For example, at the SEAA Main Championships the senior men run 15K while the senior women only run 8K. That is as if the London Marathon was 26.2 miles for men and only 14 for women.

This both downgrades the women's event compared to the men's, and sends a message to girls that they are not capable of as much as boys. Sport should be empowering girls and women, not keeping them in their place.

It is 33 years since the women's marathon was included in the Olympic Games. The IAAF have equalised the distances run in the World Cross-Country Championships, and Scottish Athletics have done the same for their national championships. It is high time competitions in England followed suit.

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Reasons for signing

  • It’s seem bizarre that the distances would be the same in other running events such as marathons which are over a longer distance, and yet not in cross country. Women should be able to test themselves over the same distance and parameters as their male counterparts.
  • It doesn't make sense for women to run over a shorter distance than men when track events and the marathon are run over standardised equal distances. It has not reduced participation in Scotland and I think English XC should follow this good example of equality.
  • I couldn't believe it when I realised that race distances are still split on gender lines. I consider this insidious discrimination which contributes to young women underestimating their abilities. What an awful disadvantage to be told from a young age by society that you are unable to perform based purely on your gender.

Updates

2018-03-15 22:22:32 +0000

A new article on the current state of progress:

https://www.fastrunning.com/cross-country/mixed-messages-but-cross-country-equality-is-moving-in-the-right-direction/13630

2018-03-10 17:47:03 +0000

On 8th March, along with a couple of friends and fellow campaigners, I met with the Chair and the Director of Strategy of UK Athletics. We had a very friendly and constructive meeting, with the following outcomes:

· UKA are working towards greater gender equality in XC running. They are keen to take a consensual approach, listening to any interested parties.
·UKA will work towards equalising the distances at the Cross Challenge series, which they organise themselves, with the proviso that the one that serves as the trials for the European Champs is likely to remain as is for now. UKA will encourage European Athletics to follow the IAAF’s lead.
·Equalisation of XC distances is on the UKA agenda and will be raised as agenda items at relevant committees. Nigel will report back to us as these discussions develop ahead of 2018-19 season.
· It is likely that the 2018/19 XC season will include a number of equalised events, with more to follow in 2019/20.

2018-02-26 15:51:26 +0000

Runner's World's first issue of their podcast - this was recorded back in December and really got the ball rolling.
https://www.runnersworld.co.uk/listen-to-and-download-the-runners-world-uk-podcast

2018-02-26 15:49:38 +0000

A piece on yesterday's Sunday Telegraph, covering the English National Champs:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/athletics/2018/02/24/cross-country-new-battleground-women-step-bid-equality/

2018-02-20 08:37:06 +0000

Last night Essex County Athletics Association voted to equalise their senior XC championships at 10k for both men & women - well done Essex!

2018-01-18 11:16:49 +0000

Check out this week's Marathon Talk podcast - they talk about XC equality about 10 minutes in.
https://marathontalk.com/shows/episode-419-rachel-cullen/

2018-01-14 14:44:19 +0000

Here's our piece on Sky News, including an interview with the great Jo Pavey:
https://news.sky.com/video/women-bidding-for-cross-country-equality-11207357

2018-01-13 17:10:41 +0000

We've had some great articles on this issue in the last few days, by myself and others:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2018/jan/12/different-race-lengths-for-men-and-women-its-time-things-changed

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-cross-country-gender-inequality-calls-athletes-petition-a8156481.html

https://www.fastrunning.com/opinion/comment/male-female-cross-country-races-distance/11107

2018-01-10 18:17:51 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2017-12-11 11:54:36 +0000

Thanks to all you fabulous people who have signed so far. We now have a Facebook group to help spread the word - please join!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/590684207989794/

2017-12-09 23:01:01 +0000

500 signatures reached

2017-12-07 21:35:25 +0000

100 signatures reached

2017-12-07 18:44:42 +0000

50 signatures reached

2017-12-07 17:58:42 +0000

25 signatures reached

2017-12-07 17:29:06 +0000

10 signatures reached