Out There: Cue The Spice Girls

And guys, check your “Man Card” at the starting line.

Written by: Susan Lacke

Kara Goucher won the 2008 Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon--outright.

There’s a growing army of strong, fast women taking over the running and triathlon communities. Women outnumber men in half-marathon participation, and are closing the gap in full-marathon and triathlon races. Thanks to leaders like Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher, Chrissie Wellington, and Mirinda Carfrae, women are showing they’re not just capable of running with the big boys — they can beat the big boys, too.

That’s right – men are getting chicked in record numbers these days. Cue Spice Girls music.

We’ve come a long way from the days where society was genuinely worried that a lady’s uterus would fall out while running. Thankfully, women have managed to keep their girl parts in place pretty well.

Most men are pretty cool with letting a woman pass them on the race course. Some may be inspired or challenged by the prospect of catching up to a woman in front of them, but let’s be honest: most men are enjoying the view. It’s okay, guys. We worked hard to get faster than you — this derrière is just a bonus. You can look–just be discreet about it. And don’t run into a course barricade.

However, there’s a small section of men who seem to feel getting chicked is a serious offense resulting in the immediate revocation of their “Man Card.” They’ll empty the gas tank trying to chase down a woman, just to avoid embarrassment. If they beat the woman, they gloat. If they lose, they throw a hissy fit that would rival anything a toddler could put on in the candy aisle of a supermarket.

When I asked a male friend of mine why this was so, he wasted no time answering:

“It’s simple. Women are the weaker sex. If we lose to a woman, we’re the weak ones.”

A-HEM. Let’s back the crazy train up here for a second. Did he really just go there? Oh, yes. Yes, he did.

Weaker sex? Hardly. Female runners and triathletes aren’t exactly the fragile waifs people seem to think they are. They work hard, get dirty, and break a sweat. They get up early for Masters swim and catch a track workout in the twilight hours. They form beautiful pacelines and can do hill repeats like nobody’s business. They balance training, career, and relationships and still somehow manage to make it all work.

At the risk of sounding like I’m about to burn my sports bra, I say to you: Weaker sex? Forget it. We demand equality. Women athletes are just like their male counterparts…only prettier. Just a little bit.

But the one thing to remember: at the starting line, we’re all racers. Even though the average woman, statistically, is slower than the average male, there’s such a wide range of abilities in every race. Unless you’re the first-place runner, there will always be someone faster than you. Your competitive fire should burn evenly, whether that faster person is male or female.

Regardless of which anatomy a person is carrying, one thing that will surely weigh anyone down on race day is an ego. Check it with your drop bag before the race. I promise, guys, your “Man Card” will still be there when you get to the finish line. It just might have a little lipstick on it.

See you Out There!

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