A “Nonbinary” Category for Marathon Races? Inclusive, Cringeworthy, or of Little Consequence?

September 13, 2022

For a truly bigoted person, running a marathon would be pure torture (beyond the physical strain). Imagine someone who holds feelings of superiority over others based on physical characteristics mixed into a diverse crowd, being passed over and over by people of different sexes, ages, races, religions, and physical abilities. Except for perhaps the elite runners that start before everyone else, this describes the experience for most runners in these races. It would be kind of hard to justify superiority to oneself when being passed up and outperformed by the very people to which one is supposedly superior. Runners probably are not opposed to such a category as a matter of bigotry or hatred in any way. The general populace shouldn’t be either.

In this regard, mixed races like marathons are a great melting pot of athletics. Everyone is together, yet results are still often recorded based on certain physical criteria as well as the overall results. This serves the legitimate purpose of determining excellence based on relevant known differences in physical ability that can be applied to all in those categories. Specifically, breakdowns by age group and sex are the most relevant.

Recorded results for the Brooklyn Marathon/Half marathon 2022 which included a “nonbinary” category
More categories means more winners and more prize money.

With more and more races indicating they will include this category, time will tell how it impacts sports and the politics of gender overall. Will the category ever be taken seriously, as even supporters must admit the “winners” did not really win anything of consequence unless their times were better than their true biological competitors? Will people see it as a good compromise option for people that do not wish to select an either/or sex/gender option? Will it result in demands for even more categories? These are interesting questions related to the bigger “culture war” topic, but I think in this case, perhaps for once, everyone should just relax and enjoy the race.

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