Poll: Should Women World Record Holders Be Penalized for Running in a Mixed Racing Event?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  65 comments   :  13,220 Views

This past August the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) met in Daegu, South Korea dealing one of the biggest blows to women endurance runners across the world when they announced that only times achieved in women's-only road racing events would qualify for the title of 'World Record' status. In other words, any past world records achieved in a co-ed racing environment would be stripped of 'World Record' title and replaced with the new term 'World's Best.'

The ruling slated to take place in January 2012 would overturn Paula Radcliffe's 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds marathon world record she attained at the London Marathon in 2003 and would replace it with the title the World's Best record.

The reasoning behind the IAAF's ruling is that women tend to run faster when pacing with men which has been shown to be the fact with many of the world records currently in place when compared to the finishing times in the women's only events.

Road racing is one of the few sports in which men and women participate side by side.  With the new ruling by the IAAF, women will be penalized for running in a mixed racing event just by the mere fact that they are running alongside men who tend to pace faster than women.  Especially in the world of competitive racing, we are fully aware that men have a huge biological advantage because of their larger hearts, lung capacity and greater muscle mass, but one cannot compete at an elite level without putting in the hard work and dedication of training regardless of one's gender.

To me this is a huge step backwards for women's running. To think that one's running ability is based solely on running alongside another runner of the opposite gender is ludicrous. While I will never be a world class runner, I have never once thought that my running ability was based on the gender of the person running with me in an event.  
This ruling has angered many in the running community, while others feel this ruling will even out the playing field by having women compete only with other women.  As a result, many road racing events are getting around this loop hole is by allowing elite women runners an earlier start well ahead of the men's group, therefore allowing for separate finishing times.

I do understand the idea that pacing with someone slightly faster may help a runner get through some of the more challenging aspects of a race, after all that is why many marathons and half-marathons offer the option of running with a pace group. However,  I have never considered it an advantage if my body was not prepared to run the event by putting in the hours of training. Sadly, I feel this ruling sets a double standard in the sport--after all why is OK for men pace to with faster men, but a woman can't pace with a faster man?

Do you agree with the IAAF's ruling? Do you think women who pace with a men are given an unfair advantage over other women? How to do you feel about the new ruling?

Should women who competed in a racing event with men and achieved a World's Record be stripped of their title?

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  • 65
    running is running no matter who it is even if she's faster - 6/8/2013   7:15:40 PM
  • 64
    Well, then, it only makes sense that men should be treated the same way - strip the "record" holders that set their records while running in a co-ed event. That would take care of it right away. Oh, the outcry!!! - 10/21/2011   9:24:08 AM
  • 63
    Outrageous. - 10/18/2011   1:32:04 PM
  • 62
    This is one of the craziest things I've ever heard. If she ran that fast, she ran that fast. Isn't the whole point of people running together that they run faster when competing? Should records only count for people who run alone? - 10/16/2011   10:09:49 AM
  • 61
    I bet men are pushing this because they don't want to admit that sometimes women are just BETTER. I don't care if there are studies that show that women push themselves harder when running with men. IF the woman wins then she deserves the title. They wouldn't consider stripping it if a man had won the 2003 marathon. I wonder if the man who lost is behind the push to strip her of her title. - 10/16/2011   4:17:57 AM
  • 60
    I know we aren't to put questions here but I was wondering, for those of us who have done just about every poll available, why do we not get credit for taking these type of polls. - 10/15/2011   12:29:00 AM
  • 59
    Thank-you Nancy for the interesting yet disturbing post. I wonder how many women are in the IAAF & how many were in Daegu, South Korea participating in the voting, or were any women there at all when the vote was taken? American women can now vote, be CEO's of a company they may even have started & thus own the company as well, & there are many females elected into whatever political position. Unfortunately, as this ruling proves, it is still basically a male dominated world. I'm not athletically inclined & presently becoming a participant in a sport is not an option for me. However, excepting for those who scale walls, I cannot think of any sport that isn't competitive even were there only one opponent. Even sports that are solo, one would be competing against themselves simply by attempting to better their prior achievement(s). Strip an athlete of their title when it's proven that foul competing by them occurred not because of their gender. Thank-you. - 10/15/2011   12:22:18 AM
  • 58
    This is absolutely absurd! What in the world were the men who voted on this ruling thinking at the time? - 10/14/2011   2:44:21 PM
    @ PANDADOT - I am so with you on this! I know many of beginner men who push harder than their known abilities simply to not be outrun by a "girl!" EGOMANIACS ..... ! - 10/14/2011   10:56:25 AM
  • 56
    This is one of the worst things I have heard of regarding women & fitness in a long time. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever! - 10/14/2011   1:06:47 AM
  • 55
    Unbelievable!!!! This sounds like so many sour grapes from men who can't handle not winning. :-( - 10/13/2011   7:47:53 AM
    This is one of the most absurd rulings I have seen... women who run world record speeds should not be penalized!!! - 10/13/2011   7:43:18 AM
  • 53
    It makes no sense! They allowed a phalanx of 6 paid (male) pacers at the Berlin marathon for the male World record. Okay, they all fell off around mile 20 but still..... - 10/13/2011   4:52:26 AM
  • 52
    Triathletes compete side by side, and the women often perform better than many men (although they might not win the overall event).
    Then comes the question of genetic females vs genetic males, like the South African woman and some other outstanding athletes competing against women. Why should genetic males reared as females be allowed to earn records as women? - 10/12/2011   4:42:45 PM
  • 51
    I so do NOT agree that women who have already achieved a World Record in running should be stripped of the title.
    I do agree, however, that either this kind of event should be brought into line with other athletic/sporting events, OR all sporting events should be co-ed!
    If the former, then World Champion could still be achieved by either sex, in a single-sex event, as happens in most other athletics and sporting events. And World Record also would hold good, for each sex separately.
    The record books could very easily indicate that a record was before or after the date or year of change. - 10/12/2011   4:41:01 PM
  • 50
    This is one of the most absurd things I have heard! A world record in any sanctioned event should count. - 10/12/2011   1:26:03 PM
  • 49
    Ridiculous! So ... apparently women can only run fast enough to set records IF they are running with men. Yes, sounds like men are behind the proposal to strip deserving women of their accolades. Some guys just can't handle women outshine them. I am absolutely appalled at this! - 10/12/2011   12:25:40 PM
  • 48
    If you can run with the big dogs, you are a big dog... - 10/12/2011   11:50:25 AM
  • 47
    They are speaking out of both sides of their mouth. They are disallowing certain types of pacing but not others. Women can certainly pace with other faster women, they may also pace using a stopwatch to guide them through each mile. This change is ludicrous. Each record setting woman has certainly earned her accomplishment through years of training and sacrafice-not because she ran next to a man. - 10/12/2011   11:36:33 AM
  • 46
    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!! Who cares if the woman might have paced herself off a man! She STILL accomplished the feat of running her race in a manner in which she could maintain for the duration b/c she TRAINED for it and was ABLE to do it. If she was on a motorized scooter... then I could understand penalizing, but she used her OWN two feet to run that race, not the feet of the man in front of her! Her muscles, her will, her feet, her shoes, her breath, lungs and heart. SHE did the work, SHE deserves the recognition. - 10/12/2011   11:20:21 AM
  • 45
    So what about the man who comes in second? Does that mean he doesn't deserve his silver medal, because he was being paced by a faster man?? Of course not! Besides the ONE person who breaks the tape, EVERYONE in that race, male or female, was paced by someone faster than them. Not to mention the spectators that motivate everyone to run faster! Maybe they should only count races that are closed off to the public... - 10/12/2011   10:14:36 AM
  • 44
    Absolutely ludicrous! So what if you use another runner to set your pace-if you haven't done the training and if your body isn't prepared, it doesn't matter. I'm a new runner, & I recently had my best 2 mile time during a race, because I know I run faster when I'm not alone. But if I hadn't put in the work up to that point, it wouldn't have happened. It is truly disappointing that in 2011, the powers that be are still finding ways to "keep women in their place." Seriously, exactly who are the people that brought up the topic in the first place & why was it deemed so threatening to the sport that they felt they had to do this? - 10/12/2011   10:13:06 AM
  • 43
    This is absurd! - 10/12/2011   9:36:52 AM
  • 42
    Unfortunately it's a fair decision. Men & women can't use a pacing device and claim a record. A bored in the blog, elite men are faster than elite women for bio-mechanical reasons. World's Best just provides a distinction between single gender vs. co-ed event results. I don't think it diminishes the achievement in the slightest. No more than differentiating between an Olympic Record vs. a World Record. - 10/12/2011   9:27:14 AM
  • 41
    hmm... so, is the IAFF saying that elite women runners should only run in races with other women to qualify as a top woman runner ? That would mean there would have to be TWO Boston Marathons i.e. one for the men and one for the women. And that would be absolutely ridiculous.

    I can't tell you how many YEARS women runners fought to just be able to run IN the Boston Marathon. And now, the IAFF is saying that running with elite men gives them an unfair advantage ? Is this what they do when they can't deal with the DOPING problems plaguing modern sports ????? Exactly who thought this was a good idea ?

    - 10/12/2011   9:13:18 AM
    R U Kidding me??? This makes 0 sense! - 10/12/2011   8:53:37 AM
  • 39
    This is, of course, absurd. The fact remains that men pace each other. Men use professional pacers, which gives them an unfair advantage over people who don't.. Therefore, pacers should also be banned and all records set by men who used them should be "disqualified". To take this "ruling" to its logical conclusion, men should not be allowed to to hold/set records unless they run in solo races.
    Clearly, someone feels incredibly threatened by women.
    This ruling is ripe for a lawsuit. - 10/12/2011   7:52:09 AM
  • 38
    This is absolutely absurd!
    - 10/12/2011   7:46:38 AM
  • 37
    This whole concept is insane. Regardless of pacing, a woman's own two legs carry her across the finish line. - 10/12/2011   7:29:33 AM
    What if it's that the men run faster when women are around (to show off)? - 10/12/2011   3:29:50 AM
  • 35
    Are you kidding me!?!? It's not like they're being pulled in a little red wagon behind a man... they either ran the time or they didn't. And if they ran the time, it's a frickin' world record! Twits! - 10/12/2011   12:13:03 AM
  • 34
    What will the IAAF do when, not if, WHEN a woman comes in first among all runners and sets a new record for the event. Will her accomplishment be diminished just because stinky old boys were running too? This is stupid. Moronic. Do they dismiss men's records because runner A is trying to beat out runner B and as a result both runners run faster?

    Dumb and it will probably be reversed in short order. - 10/11/2011   11:45:37 PM
  • 33
    This seems sort of whacky. Perhaps men should be stripped of their titles in mixed events as well. Maybe they unconsciously run faster in the presence of women! - 10/11/2011   8:55:37 PM
  • 32
    This is wrong on so many levels. - 10/11/2011   7:40:45 PM
  • 31
    Stripping an athlete of a title just because the rules changed afterwards is just plain WRONG. They played by the rules at the time, so they should be awarded appropriately. If "the powers that be" insist upon changing the rules then, just put an asterisk next to the name in the record book. That's what professional baseball in the US did when they changed the number of games in a year.

    As far as the rule itself is concerned, it's stupid. It doesn't make the playing field any more fair. If they want to make things more fair, then separate out the professionals from the amateurs, then separate out by age groups and experience (i.e. 1-5 races, 6-20 races, something like that), oh and don't forget to make sure that everyone wears the same clothing and shoes, that no one has any timing mechanisms, GPS, or sound systems. While we're at it, let's group competitors by fat percentage, weight, height, stride length. Pretty soon we'll have 100 classes for the 100 runners, so that every one is a winner! - 10/11/2011   7:00:30 PM
  • 30
    My opinion is that competitive women runners as a group should be able to decide how to fairly award women's running titles in the future. I would like to learn more about this ruling. So far I have only read this opinionated article. However, from what I've read, it seems that the ruling was simply an attempt to level the playing field for women in their competition with other women. Obviously it has pricked people in a sensitive spot. I too find the idea of stripping a previously earned title to be unreasonable and unkind. - 10/11/2011   6:00:05 PM
  • 29
    Seems indefensible to me. I'd really like to hear a sound argument from someone who agrees with the IAAF. - 10/11/2011   5:46:20 PM
    So once again women get penalised for working harder? That's just a fantastic message to send our daughters, never mind our sons. Next they'll ban female events because we're clearly spending too much time out the kitchen - 10/11/2011   5:13:34 PM
  • 27
    It is ridiculous.

    The best I can think is they were hoping that it would bring the best to less financially appealing IAFF races/championships in pursuit of the records.

    But total guess. It makes no sense to me. Totally needs pulled from the books. - 10/11/2011   4:07:40 PM
  • 26
    If a woman ran it, then a woman ran it. A man doesn't get his record removed because he ran with someone who pushed him faster than he thought possible. The sex of the rabbit shouldn't matter and the records should stand. - 10/11/2011   3:39:43 PM
  • 25
    This is so sad. Who cares what sex the rabbit is? These women were still physically able to maintain that pace. If nothing else, it proves that they SHOULD run with men to make them push harder than they thought possible. - 10/11/2011   3:38:02 PM
  • 24
    As a runner, I say thank God for faster guys. They push me beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. I can say that I am in no way an elite runner, but the challenges available in a co-ed race have pushed me to finishing times that I never thought I would accomplish. The IAAF ruling is ridiculous. - 10/11/2011   2:34:06 PM
  • 23
    This is crazy. So nothing that women have done in ANY marathon race counts anymore? Let everyone run together - running is such a solitary sport, races are the only place that we can feel the camaraderie of other runners. And so it's not a wonder that people perform better in the presence of others. Who cares if they're male or female? They're RUNNERS. - 10/11/2011   2:30:50 PM
  • 22
    If they use that logic, then each runner should run his or her race alone so nobody else will influence their finish time. The whole point of a race is to be pushed by your competitors. - 10/11/2011   1:50:59 PM
  • 21
    This makes absolutely no sense at all.
    - 10/11/2011   1:44:00 PM
  • 20
    That's garbage. Doesn't that just take away the incentive for the girls to try and beat the boys? I think it's lousy. (And unlike the Diet Dr. Pepper issue, that is NOT demographics.) :) - 10/11/2011   1:36:56 PM
  • 19
    This ruling is ludicrous. At the very least, it should not be retroactive to the day it goes into effect. I wonder how many, if any, women had a say in establishing this new rule. I'd like to know their thoughts. - 10/11/2011   1:08:41 PM
  • 18
    This sounds very unfair. If men break a record in a mixed race, is that a "world's best" for them also? - 10/11/2011   12:49:01 PM
  • 17
    I do not believe a current title should be stripped from anyone, but the change in the new rules seems perfectly acceptable to me. Just don't take a previous title. I thought the poll question was not accurately related to the article and the issue. - 10/11/2011   12:24:26 PM
  • 16
    First off, I don't believe that this decision was because some guys were beaten by a woman runner. That comment is just childish. However I do agree that it is completely unfair especially when it is a co-ed race. The only way to make this ruling fair is to treat the guys the same way so that anyone registered in the IAAF would be stripped as well. - 10/11/2011   11:54:55 AM

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