Lately, I’ve been adventuring solo a lot. On my most recent solo escapade, I tried running up and down Mt. Jo, in New York states’ Adirondacks. It’s graded as family friendly, which made it, I thought, suitable for trail running. The fact that a lot of people hike it every day is another plus, in case of emergency.
On the way up, I passed two women. One of them appeared to be 80 year old, slowly making her way up, stepping carefully on each boulder on the short but steep trail. I didn’t pay too much attention as I was huffing and puffing and the negativity was high. It was harder than I had expected and I felt it. I noticed this old woman’s smile and the lightness if not of her steps, at least of her heart, and I felt a pang of envy.
At the summit, I met three old men who shared their chocolate chip cookies with me, which cheered me up. After a while, the two women finally arrived at the summit. The older woman, it turns out, is one of the first to have run the Boston Marathon in 1969 – before we (women) were granted the right to officially run it in 1972. I went to talk to her and thanked her. She was an easy going and caring woman so I found myself disclosing personal anecdotes quite rapidly. I told her about my ex-mother-in-law, who also had to be escorted by policemen, when she first ran in Banff in the 1960s (and who I still maintain contact with because she is so awesome).
I was so proud to have met such a great woman, such a role model, I posted a picture and told the story on Facebook, then on Instagram, and now here. I thought we have come a long way, and I was a little surprised by the amount of people who hadn’t realized that once upon a time, women weren’t allowed to participate in these sport events, and then, it hit me.
There is still descrimination today. Le Tour de France is one of these events were women aren’t allowed in. You can read about it here, and here, and here again… I became aware of this fact (i.e. the absence of women in the race) a year ago. Almost every one I talked to about this do not seem surprised and rather look for reasons why we should keep excluding women. “They wouldn’t be able to finish in the same times”, “Women’s events do not generate as much public interest, and therefore less money”. I’m sure this is very similar to the conversations we were having before we allowed women to run the Boston Marathon.
I don’t have to look at France, it is happening here, in Canada, as well. In early September this year, there was the Grand Prix cycliste de Québec et de Montréal. No surprise here, there are no women competing. (I found out that the GP cycliste de Gatineau does have women competing). To add insult to injury, the sempiternal “chicks” decorating the podium are still there. I became more verbal about this discrimination. Again, I was met by bewilderment and tentative reasoning.
No my friends. Don’t be surprised that we were once not allowed to run the Boston Marathon… Those days are not so far behind us. Rather, we should be surprised that we are still not totally convinced that women should be allowed in major sporting events.
End of my two cents.