The recent SRP Sundown run had a 5K “mini-skirt” category. In his column last Saturday, my colleague Mike Limpag wasn’t comfortable with the idea of women running in mini-skirts and chided the race organizer for coming up with a gimmick that borders on the sexist to spice up a fun run.
I would have to disagree. As a mini-skirt clad runner myself, I see nothing wrong with the 5K “mini-skirt” category or women in mini-skirts competing in road runs.
Photo credit: Running Fashion is Political (Or, Help Me Find the Perfect Running Dress, www.stetthatrun.com)
Abbreviated running skirts have been around as early as the 70’s during the first wave of the running boom. In fact, archive photos of Kathryn Switzer (as shown above), the first woman ever to officially run the Boston Marathon, show this women’s marathon pioneer competing while clad in mini skirt and sometimes a mini dress at the New York City marathon – one of the first competitions to officially allow women to run the full marathon distance.
Running skirts are popular for practical, aesthetic and symbolic reasons. They are “hayahay” and allow freedom of movement minus the chafing often caused by running shorts that bunch-up between the thighs. They’re often made from moisture-wicking material and have boyleg briefs underneath that secure the wearer from any indecent exposure.
Photo credit: Amper Campana, Sun Star Daily Cebu (running with Ms. Madelyn Carter)
More importantly, running in skirts is a celebration and affirmation of femininity in a formerly all-male sport. It’s hard to imagine now but just a little over 30 years ago, the doors to the world of marathons were shut to women runners. It took a decade of persistent lobbying before the International Olympic Committee allowed women to run the full marathon in the 1982 Olympics in Los Angeles, which was won by Joan Benoit (Samuelson), the first ever women’s marathon Olympic gold medalist.
In running parlance, to be “skirted” is to be outrun and outraced by a girl runner. So, long live the (mini) skirt!