Mon 19 Jun 2023 • Nick Kershaw
Women on the start line: Integrating SheRaces into our Impact Marathons
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We have been a founding member of SheRaces - here is how we have integrated the policies into our work...
At Impact Marathons, we are proud to be at the forefront of a powerful movement that celebrates and empowers women in the world of running. Since our early days, we have been lucky enough to work with Sophie Power as our board member and advisor. When Sophie began her journey to launch SheRaces, we were always going to encourage and support her, but more, we were always going to look hard at our own processes and question how we could make our races more inclusive and accessible for women.
We had always had a 50/50 split on our international runners, so we needed to analyse what we were doing right, where we had blind spots, and what we could be doing better. In the process of taking on board the research and advice offered on the SheRaces website, we have taken significant steps to integrate the SheRaces initiative into our Impact Marathons. In this blog, we'll delve into how we are fostering a supportive and empowering environment for women, and how SheRaces is driving positive change within our global running community.
We firmly believe that running should be accessible to everyone, regardless of gender. SheRaces is a movement that acknowledges the unique challenges and triumphs experienced by women in the running world. By integrating SheRaces into our Impact Marathons, we aim to create an inclusive space where women can be celebrated, and inspire one another. This is especially important in each of our locations where, amongst our local participants, we don't yet see such a high ratio of women to men. The international runners at our races, and the make-up of Team Impact, are example setters. We strive to amplify the voices of women, providing a platform to share their stories, achievements, and perspectives.
We work with local videographers and photographers in each location, and we make it clear that we want them to shoot as artists, not race photographers. We want them to ensure a story is told with each shot and that they shoot all ages, genders, shapes, and sizes of runners. This makes our social media policy super easy to implement: our Instagram feed should be as varied as those who join our events. We have a responsibility to ensure our content shares each story, and make sure that anyone coming across Impact Marathons knows that they have a place on the start line.
Logistical Considerations for Women's Needs:
We understand the importance of addressing women's specific needs during races. As part of our commitment to inclusivity, we have implemented several logistical specifics that cater to the comfort and well-being of women participants. For instance, we ensure that every aid station along the race route is stocked with sanitary products, so that women have easy access to these essential items. This small yet significant detail eliminates potential barriers and ensures that women can focus on their running experience without worry or inconvenience. Now, in a more practical lesson in our implementation of this policy - is to make sure that we mention this facility in our race briefing! Otherwise, since this is not commonplace on a race, how would someone even know to ask.
This policy extends beyond race day, we have products on hand throughout the week. Wherever we go, one of our team is in charge of 'The Football', this bag is packed with all the things we know from 8 years of experience, could well be needed as a backup. The runners know that they can ask whoever is possession of The Football - and they'll be taken care of.
Empowering Women through Representation:
Representation matters. We are committed to increasing female representation across all aspects of our events, from race participants to race organizers, volunteers, and speakers. By actively seeking out and promoting women leaders within the running community, we ensure that diverse voices are heard and that women are empowered to take up leadership roles. Through the SheRaces initiative, we are inspiring the next generation of female runners and proving that women can excel in any capacity within the running world.
We have pioneered female race directors in locations where this is unheard of - the girls in our villages then have a role-model to look up to. Imagine growing up in a remote Nepali village, then seeing a female-race director making an incredible day flow brilliantly, and being the boss that all report to...that has a power, that has an impact.
Creating a Supportive Community:
We recognise the importance of fostering a supportive and encouraging community for women in running. SheRaces provides a safe and empowering space where women can connect, share experiences, and uplift one another. Through pre-race meet-ups, online forums, and dedicated social media groups, we facilitate connections between female runners, enabling conversations to start before the race so when they land in-country they have already had the chance to link up with others - planning travel together etc. Our community of women runners is a powerful force, united in their shared passion for running and making a positive impact.
Our race team of volunteers is arranged to ensure we have women on each water and aid station, and we do small things such as scout out appropriate toilet spots in locations too remote to arrange a physical toilet. In our more remote locations, this also has the benefit of ensuring a safer aid station environment.
How we represent our races is also important. Let's be entirely honest, our races are tough, they really are. But we have seen time and time again that reaching that finish line is achievable - our generous cut-off times, mixed with our incredibly supportive community throughout the week all make the impossible become possible. Our communications about the route you are going to undertake reflect this: we won't be over-egging the challenge in order to make the race more marketable, or sound more brutal than it is. Yes, the routes are challenging, but you are going to look up and see the world from an angle you've never seen before, and you are going to be supported, and you are going to find strength you never knew you had. It will probably be one of the toughest challenges you've ever undertaken - but you have a whole community cheering you on every step of the way.
Championing Female-led Social Impact Projects:
Impact Marathons are not only about running; they are about creating lasting change within communities. We actively seek out and support female-led social impact projects that address pressing issues faced by women and girls worldwide. By amplifying the work of these projects, we aim to raise awareness, generate funds, and create meaningful impact. Through SheRaces, we are putting a spotlight on the remarkable achievements of women who are driving positive change within their communities, inspiring others to take action and contribute to a more equitable world. This extends beyond running.
We do not exclusively work with female-led organisations but it is a bonus when we do. Partners such as SERES in Guatemala, are brilliant advocates for blindspots in our logistical planning, as well as being immense champions of inclusivity in their communities, all year round.
As we continue to integrate the SheRaces movement into our Impact Marathons, we are making significant strides towards gender equality, representation, and empowerment within the running community. By embracing inclusivity, addressing women's logistical needs, championing female leaders, fostering a supportive community, and supporting female-led social impact projects, we are creating an environment where women can thrive and make a tangible difference. Together, we are reshaping the narrative of women in running, celebrating their achievements, and inspiring future generations of female runners to push boundaries and embrace their power.
We have a created the most powerful experiences of your life in Nepal, Jordan, and Guatemala, all still have a few places left at the time of writing. - join us!