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I.A.A.F. Gives Women Marathoners the Middle Finger

The International Association of Athletics Federations (I.A.A.F.) has given the middle finger to women marathoners all across the world.

Per the New York Times the IAAF will no longer recognize records that women marathoners set when sharing road courses with male marathoners.

The world governing body for track and field decided in late August that records in women’s road racing will count only if they are set in women’s-only events, to nullify the benefits of pacesetting by faster male runners, a dynamic that can exist in some marathons, half-marathons and 10-kilometer races where men and women are in the same field.

How silly is this ruling? Very….for example:

What was understood to be the women’s world marathon record — the 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds that (Paula) Radcliffe ran over 26.2 miles at the 2003 London Marathon, in a mixed race with male pacesetters for elite women — is now out of consideration. So is the 2:17:18 she ran at the Chicago Marathon, another mixed race, in 2002.

What is now the record — yet only the third-fastest race that Radcliffe has run — is the 2:17:42 that she ran in London in 2005. In that race, elite women started 45 minutes ahead of the men’s field, racing and finishing separately, now a common practice in major marathons.

It gets even sillier!  The IAAF now calls Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 a ‘World Best.’  So it is no longer the ‘World Record’ but is now a ‘World Best.’

“I also think it is a little unfair to set it like that retroactively,” Radcliffe told Runner’s World.

AUDIO LINK to Radcliffe talking about the IAAF decision.

World Best? That sounds like a cheesy saying off a button from a party store that you give your boss or mother of your kids.

Mary Wittenberg (assumed to be a female), RD of the New York City Marathon and on the IAAF’s road racing commission, had this to say about the new rule:

“The I.A.A.F. wanted to show that women can stand on their own two feet, that they don’t need guys to help them get to world records,” Wittenberg said. “There’s definitely a difference. Women run faster with men as pacers, about a two-minute differential on average.”

The Big Lead’s Sam Eifling, in his blog post on the rule change, put it this way:

And then there was this joint statement by the Association of International Marathons (with 300 member marathons) and the World Marathon Majors (representing the Boston, New York, Chicago, London and Berlin marathons): “The current situation where the fastest time is not now recognized as a record is confusing and unfair and does not respect the history of our sport.”

“It’s a move that could only have been made by an organization that doesn’t know its public relations ass from its elbow,” is how Philip Hersh wrote it in the Chicago Tribune, a family newspaper.

But one of the few charms of road running is that it often allows women and men on the same field, at the same moment. And elite women distance runners tend to hold up relatively well against men. The current women’s world record in the mile, for instance, is about where the men’s world record was 94 years ago. In the marathon, Radcliffe’s times would have beaten the men’s record as recently as 1958.

Professional marathoner Sarah Stanley had this to say about it when I asked her about the ruling:

“The new ruling is absurd. A world record is a world record regardless if it is run in mixed company. Have we reverted back a few century’s? We shouldn’t separate women from the men in races. It is a equal opportunity sport and elite men and women need our support.”

It’s a dumb ruling and to apply it retroactively by take records away from women who have already celebrated setting world records…years ago is even dumber.

When will the IAAF rule that no record can be set at a race where elite runners have specialized sports and nutrition drinks laid out at aid tables for them before the race?  That seems like more of an unfair advantage than women running with male pacesetters.  Shouldn’t all the runners at a marathon have to drink the same water and sports drink on the course?

I mean if we are going to start dissecting marathoning just for the sake of creating controversy.

[image: Leah Thorvilson]

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This post was written by:

- who has written 1051 posts on Run It Fast®.

Joshua Holmes has completed 197 marathons/ultramarathons while running 100+ miles 43 including races such as the Badwater 135, Western States 100, The Last Annual Vol State 500K (3x). His favorite races to date are the Vol State 500K, Badwater 135, Barkley Fall Classic, Catalina Eco Marathon, Chimera 100, Across The Years, Savage Gulf Trail Marathon, Strolling Jim 40 Miler, Tunnel Hill 100, RUTS, EC100 and the Flying Monkey Marathon in his home state of Tennessee. Follow @bayou Follow @joshuaholmes on Instagram

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2 Responses to “I.A.A.F. Gives Women Marathoners the Middle Finger”

  1. Lisa says:

    They took away Deena’s American Record too. I think it sucks. If they are going to make the change, fine. But have it going forward so everyone knows what the rules are and can choose accordingly.

    Having said that, I don’t think racing with men gives women an unfair advantage. We both have seen cases where women beat men and I think that really if you are winning or in the lead, you are running your own race at that point. It doesn’t matter who was “leading” you out. Heck, if that were the case, wouldn’t they have to negate every American Record set by men who ran in a race with Kenyans or Ethiopians! Wouldn’t that be an unfair advantage for them to race with someone faster. Like Galen Rupp just did?

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  1. […] 8:55am – Mixed field today, so sorry women….no world records (STORY!!!) […]


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