at the races Women Should Be Treated Equally at the Start Line and in the...

Women Should Be Treated Equally at the Start Line and in the Newspaper Coverage


On Sunday, March 26 I had the pleasure of joining hundreds of spectators at the 2023 Around the Bay 30K. It’s well known as the oldest road race in North America—a fact we take great pride in stating as Canadians. It’s also one of my favourite races, having completed it eleven times with six of those as podium finishes. Having just raced the Tokyo Marathon, I knew I wouldn’t be racing this year, but I couldn’t resist not the pull of run. 

I had nine of my own athletes racing whom I wanted to support so made the short trip down the 403 to Hamilton to cheer for them and the hundreds of others competing in the 5K, relay and 30K events.

I also contacted Race Director, Anna Lewis, to see if there was anything I could do to help. She took me up on my offer and suggested that I assist with announcing at the start and finish lines. Before the 30K and 5K races, I spoke a few words of encouragement to the racers and counted down the final ten seconds to the start gun. 

ON THE FRONTLINES: Krista DuChene, pictured in the middle in red, at the 2017 Chilly Half Marathon.

I even had the fun and somewhat nerve-wracking experience of holding the finish line tape for the top women and men. When nearing the start time for the 5K race I couldn’t help but notice something that’s always bothered me—a row of only men lined up at the front of the pack with a few women scattered behind them.

There were no women up front for young girls to see.

No women to be viewed in future published start line pictures.

It was an opportunity to say something and I didn’t.

I honestly regret this.

I had the microphone in my hand. There was no better time. Maybe in the 30 seconds I had, I didn’t think I would be able to say it in the right way. But I wish I had said something.

I saw Brittany Moran, pictured up top, in the second row and knew she had a good chance of winning, which she did, and should have taken that opportunity to call her up to the front.

Where she belonged.

For the record, I’ve been on many start lines where the announcers have called me and a few other professional women to the front—only to have a few men stand right in front of us shortly after. 

Then today I saw a social media post by Sasha Gollish, pictured below, that showed a sports news story that summarized the race—stating the winner of the Around the Bay 30K as Blair Morgan.

He did win and deserves every bit of credit for his victory. But so did Sasha Gollish.

SPEED LIKE SASHA: Gollish, on her way to winning Around the Bay, photographed by @Dre.Run.

The story, mentioning her win, seemed like an afterthought. It’s 2023 and it showed we still have glaring examples of what females are still fighting for. Sasha and I messaged back and forth about the race—including a screenshot I took of the Strava crowns I lost to her—and she decided to write an email to address the issue. It was corrected right away, but then was followed up by another sports news story doing the same exact thing. Look at the headline.

I suggested she copy and paste the same email, and hope for the same result. 

We can do better. 

Please let’s do better. 

Men, unless you are certain you will be on the podium, move behind. 

Sports writers, please take a moment to think about how you will write a story, including the headline.  



  1. Some interesting insights into the sport. Honestly, since it’s 2023 maybe we shouldn’t even segregate the sport according to gender. We should have an overall winner not one for each gender. Just a thought. Finally, asking men to move unless they podium for certain is a little brash. Did you ever run a race that you were certain you would podium? Probably not, and probably have had races that you may not have even finished. Asking someone to step asid based on gender is a slippery slope. If we simply look at the top ten finishers overall, time based, we have one incredibly fast female, the rest males. By all means cover the sport accurately. Can we not just celebrate that nearly 4000 runners, of vast diversity got out, raised money, and had an amazing time?
    Please do better.

  2. 99% of the time, stepping in front of a woman at the start line is something a man not a woman would do. To gain what? Possibly a better photo? Certainly not a better time. We all need to be kinder to each other.

  3. Hi Bently, Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I think it’s important not to have a single category; there are sex-based differences in sport, and as the article says women are underrepresented everywhere in sport, from headlines to start lines. How about instead of thinking about chasing a podium but equal representation on the start line, when young girls see women on the start line, they can then see themselves on the start line one day. iRun, in particular, and others cover the sport to celebrate everyone participating in various events, but it is important to also celebrate competition and winning. Happy to discuss the gender equity challenges women face in a sport to shed some evidenced-based research and data with you, including why competition is important.

  4. Thank you Sasha for reminding people that it shouldn’t be all about the men, all the time. I started running in 1966, a year before Kathryn Switzer ran the Boston Marathon despite the race director trying to forcibly remove her, and 18 years before the first women’s Olympic marathon race. There were few opportunities for us then, not many races, and pre Title IX so really no running scholarships available to women. I watched my male track teammates head off to US universities and just accepted that it wasn’t something we could have. I watched the slow evolution of offering awards to women (I seem to recall the Eatons 10k used to give awards to top 10 men and top ONE woman) and watched the numbers slowly climb. My first marathon had less than 200 women and over 1700 men, but we persisted, became faster, and more of us joined in. Women read the news too, and I for one am interested in who won the women’s race. Even if she wasn’t as fast as the fellow who won the men’s race. I wish we could just accept that there are differences, and that those need to be recognized, and having us competing is good for all women to see, young aspiring athletes, and those of us who are older but still enjoying it.

  5. I think both the Hamilton Spectator and ATB organization committee could do a better job in promoting the race itself. For example, leading up to the race have an article that highlights the top five women and top five men contenders vying for the title. And on the starting have the announcer introduce these ten athletes to create a further buzz among the runners and crowd.
    Now in terms of moving aside for an athlete based on gender-that is an issue that will divide fellow runners. When I have been on the start line of the ATB, I positioned myself in the time I believe I can run on that day so as not to impede the faster runners wether they are female or male. And once the race starts certain runners find out quite quickly they are not at the level of the fastest women.
    Yes having some of the women at the front of the race will set an example for the younger female athletes. Once they see some of their idols competing it will in turn inspire them in their athletic endeavours. Some work still has to be done-let’s hope there are steps in the right direction.

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