A Feminist Rant Disguised as a Race Recap

I did the Nike Women’s Half Marathon yesterday. It was an okay race. I didn’t do well, but that sometimes happens. I was pretty excited about this race. I’m in pretty good shape right now, it’s my first DC race, and the route looked to be pretty nice. Overall, though, I was pretty disappointed with the experience.

First, it’s an expensive race. I think it’s supposed to be $175 and it’s a lottery entry. I got in as a student without the lottery and paid $150. Though that’s a high entry fee, I usually spend more per race when factoring in travel, lodging, food, etc.
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Next, it’s a women’s race. This seemed kind of exciting to me at first. I know gymtimidation is real and I think encouraging women to be active is good. Running is the most empowering thing I do, so if there is a way to encourage more women to be active I like that (though a quick search of running stats shows that women participate in races as much as, if not more than, men so maybe it’s really just a marketing ploy and not at all about empowerment).

My problem with the women’s aspect of the race is that there were a lot of really sexist components. I’m all for empowering events, but playing into stereotypes, binary thinking, and reversing double standards isn’t empowering. It’s quite the opposite, it legitimizes the behaviors, thinking, messages that should be eliminated. I saw some advertising that was a bit offensive, but I can’t remember what it said nor can I find any online.

The most disappointing part was the necklace at the end. I don’t need another necklace. I like getting medals. And why do they assume women want a pendant with the Nike swoosh on it? But the worst part of the necklace is that they were given to us in their blue Tiffany box by very attractive ROTC men in tuxedos (who were, of course, wearing black Nikes). Women would likely not be happy with men getting medals from hot women in bikinis so why is objectifying men any different? And why do they think women run races to have beautiful men waiting for them at the finish line? It seems like the whole empowerment part of a women’s event gets turned on its head here.

There were also extra men around for eye candy who were just hanging out for photos. They would pick you up, smile with you, do whatever for a photo.

And, there was a primping tent after the finish line! What?! I didn’t witness this but Katya accidentally ended up there thinking it was a place to get a finisher shirt (which, apparently, they didn’t have this year). Why on earth is there a primping tent at the finish line of a race? If you just ran a half marathon, you deserve to not wear make-up the rest of the day. Seriously. At least until after a shower. At least.

There were good parts of the race. The expo and packet pick-up were well-organized. The expo was outside and it was a beautiful day when I went on Saturday. It was pretty crowded and not that big but still nice. The packet pick-up was great. They assigned numbers at check-in so that prevented long lines with some people and no lines with others. It was very smooth.

The start line was clearly set up and well-marked. There were lots of water stations and port-a-potties along the course. They had oranges, chocolate, Cliff shot blocks, and lots of variety along the route (I didn’t take anything).

There were a lot of photo ops along the course which was a bit weird but okay. They also had high school and college marching bands or drum lines ever couple of miles which was kind of fun, even when they weren’t playing they were great at cheering!

…okay, this post is getting pretty long so I will continue with a review of how the running part of the race was later this week…