take a look at the following race photos:
(ottawa marathon – source)
(toronto waterfront marathon – source)
(boston marathon – source)
for years, i have had this rant bubbling in my brain that just wished to come out, but i didn’t know how to argue my thesis in a succinct and pithy manner. here’s the upshot of what i’ve been ruminating on:
marathons are so white.
i wanted to let loose about how the number of white marathon runners does not reflect our population composition, about how it is an elitist sport, about how you need to be at a certain socio-economic-level to qualify for and participate in the boston marathon…i’ve just never been able to clearly articulate my thoughts on paper (or in a microsoft word doc).
luckily, runner’s world magazine came to my rescue with their december issue:
i no longer subscribe to the magazine because i can read it for free at the store, but more importantly, i was tired of how they were rehashing similar ideas every few months.
in this issue, however, they have a unique, well-researched and fascinating article:
i avidly read the article (during a slow spurt, bien sûr)…and then re-read it and made notes a few days later.
now, the article focuses on persons of african-american origin and their lack of representation in distance running in the u.s., but the concept translates well to canada.
in the u.s., “core” runners, those who tend to enter running events and train year-round, are 90% caucasian, 5.1% hispanic, 3.9% asian and 1.6 % african american (p 94 of the article). i’d say that in canada, the 90% caucasian stat is likely also the case, but i’d propose that asians are next most represented group.
i will not hijack the entire article – i encourage you to seek it out on your own here.
to pique your interest, though, here are the three main questions asked:
- what does account for the low participation numbers among minorities?
- what obstacles do minority runners face?
- what can be done to address this lack of diversity?
(these questions are found on p 95).
the reason i liked this article so much is because it is not just a whine about how we need to increase minority participation in running (a main benefit being that it is “an inexpensive and effective way to address health problems of at-risk populations” [p 97]). rather the author states his queries, provides supporting statistics, quotes professionals from several relevant fields, then answers the question, “what might be done?”
i’ll highlight just one of his five proposals: “media could be more conscious of race when choosing models” (for photos that accompany stories and for advertisements).
i love this idea. while finishing up the runner’s world article, i had a brainwave – i grabbed the latest edition of our in-house magazine in order to see exactly how diverse the models were for stories and ads.
in our november/december issue, i found one asian male included in the promotional ad on the back of the magazine cover:
on the inside of the front cover, the asian male’s face is obscured:
so, he is in the ad but you need to look carefully to pick out his nationality. all other stories, ads, features show white males and females. wow.
now – what is fabulous is the article which talks about kids running (it’s on page 34 of the issue) – it’s totally multi-cultural! how wonderful!
if we are to change the make-up of long distance race participants, it is key to target children. with events like the terry fox run, and run for the cure, we have opportunities to get kids interested in running, and encourage them to be life-long fitness enthusiasts. today’s 1 k elf run participant may very well race a future boston marathon !
in closing, i’ll reiterate that it’s worth your while to read the runner’s world piece. today’s blog post does not capture all my thoughts and ideas on this complex and multi-faceted topic, but it’s a start.
share any personal observations or thoughts that you wish – i’d love to continue this discussion!
(for thursday november 17): yesterday…i think i was thankful…or else i am really in trouble…that
LULULEMON OPENED A SHOP IN THE MALL ACROSS THE STREET, YES A 30 SECOND WALK FROM MY FRONT DOOR!!!
oh golly, miss molly.