at the races The time is right to allow amateur racing without distinguishing gender

The time is right to allow amateur racing without distinguishing gender


Running makes a giant leap forward with Love is Love.

Love is Love—which takes place virtually between August 28 through September 6— is a new 1-mile virtual event hosted by the Calgary Marathon with the Calgary Pride foundation making history as Alberta’s largest city’s first Pride run. It’s LGBTQ2+ friendly and the first of its kind as its registration form does not ask participants to choose a gender. Long overdo and open to everybody, the event is a braver space for people who haven’t had one—especially in sports—for much too long.

“The established binary categories (ie: Male/Female) that exist in competition make it challenging for folks whose identity may not align with the sex they were assigned at birth, and the gender identity in which they live,” says Parker Chapple, executive director of Calgary Pride, and a former competitive swimmer who felt thwarted by binary category expectations. “For us to be able to create an activity in a space that typically excludes trans and non-binary folks feels important and representational of what Pride is about—creating opportunities that inspire empathy while challenging the status quo.” 

Kirsten Fleming, executive director of Run Calgary, has long been active in this space and made inclusion a priority for her race organization, one of the largest in the country. Long a voice for inclusion and equality in our sport, it was important to her to team up with Pride Calgary to launch a Pride run. 

“We are learning about the lack of safe spaces in sport for the LBGTQ2+ community and are excited to work with Calgary Pride to provide an equitable opportunity for trans, non-binary and gender fluid participants to compete and join in,” says Fleming, who moved the entire Scotiabank Calgary Marathon to a virtual run earlier this spring. “Moreover, we hope to facilitate a culture of learning and allyship in the running community through this collaboration.” 

Highlights from the 2017 the Calgary Marathon in Calgary, Alberta on May 27, 2017.
Photo credit Dave Holland

The collaboration is exciting, and not just to the LGBTQ2+ community looking to participate in the events and feel safe and respected, but to Calgary—and Canada’s—diverse community of runners, no matter how they identify. Parker Chapple says their community doesn’t want to win “Best Trans Athlete” or “Best Non-Binary Runner.” They want to compete on the same playing field as every other competitor. The Love is Love 1-Mile virtual event may even be the catalyst to modernize running when road races finally return after COVID-19. Parker Chapple says it’s about time. 

“During Pride Week, cis-gender and heterosexual folks tend to become more engaged with our community by proxy and want to be good allies, they just might not have the tools,” Chapple explains. “Love is Love sparks a conversation in a healthy, timely manner and we believe it can empower individuals so that when it’s not Pride Week, importantly, we all employ tolerance and empathy all year round.

Calgary Pride week is August 28th – September 6th, 2020. To sign up for Love is Love, open now, click here.