New York City Marathon Will Make Race More Inclusive For Breastfeeding And Nonbinary Runners

New initiatives set to be introduced to the New York City marathon will make the race more inclusive for non binary and breastfeeding runners, while also introducing pay equity for athletes with disabilities.

While sport has long been celebrated for its ability to unite people around the world and offer new perspectives, equality has still been an issue plaguing not only women in the field, but also athletes within the LGBTQI+ community. In football, we’ve seen firsthand the issue of pay equity, as the Matildas found themselves as the stand bearers of equality after FIFA raises the female prize money at the World Cup to just $30 million up from $15 million, despite the men’s World Cup prize money seeing a $50 million uplift to $350 million. Meanwhile, the LGTBQI+ community has found their safe space of sport come under increased scrutiny, as many have campaigned to see their participation banned from wider competition. 

These issues reflect just how much work needs to be done to see competitive sport reflect the wider values of a current, modern society. But when it comes to running, the community is one that has been quicker to adopt such changes, with the Boston Marathon announcing in September that it would introduce a new nonbinary category for runners at its 2023 race. Now, the New York City marathon has released its own initiatives with the intention of making the event more inclusive. 

The announcement comes from the New York Road Runners (NYRR) group, who are responsible for the New York City Marathon. This year’s race will see an expansion of these inclusive initiatives, with the aim of supporting underrepresented runners, the LGBTQI+ and nonbinary communities, as well as athletes with a disability and those who are breastfeeding. 

A more inclusive environment for nonbinary runners

For nonbinary runners, the New York City marathon will expand on its 2021 initiative of introducing a nonbinary category. For 2022, the event will become the first World Marathon Major to award prize money to nonbinary runners. The top five athletes in the new nonbinary category will earn a cash prize, with the top finisher receiving $5,000. The nonbinary category is for general runners only however as currently there is no professional nonbinary category. 

While the New York City marathon isn’t the first race to offer prize money for nonbinary athletes, it’s certainly a celebration to see a world marathon major introduce such a ruling. Previously, the Philadelphia Distance Run and Brooklyn Marathon and Half Marathon have awarded cash to nonbinary winners. According to NYRR, the number of nonbinary athletes has continued to grow, from 16 athletes who identified as such in 2021, to over 60 that are expected to line up at this year’s race. 

As Kerin Hempel, CEO of NYRR, said in an interview with SELF, “A lot of the work we’ve been doing as an organisation has been about ensuring people not only feel included, but feel that they have a sense of belonging.”

Support for breastfeeding runners

Having a baby shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your running goals, but for a lot of new mothers, the lack of support means they often are sidelined. Thankfully, the New York City marathon will be expanding its support for breastfeeding athletes at the race, partnering with &Mother, a nonprofit cofounded by Olympic middle-distance runner Alysia Montano, who will also be running at this year’s event. 

The partnership will see NYRR offer more lactation stations at different locations throughout the race weekend. Private location spaces will be available at the expo, the start line, along the course and near the finish line of the marathon. Organisers will also continue to transport nursing pumps from the start to the finish for runners, as they have done for the past 10 years or more. 

As Hempel describes, this is an important initiative that seeks to remove barriers to participation in sport. “Especially for our races, it’s a longer day. We wanted to make sure nothing was standing in the way of mothers being able to participate at their best and feeling confident they would have resources at the start, finish, and along the way to ensure they could have the most positive race experience.”

Pay equity for athletes with disabilities

NYRR announced that the bonus for breaking the time record on the course for the professional wheelchair division will now be equal to course-record bonus for the pro open division with a payment of $50,000 for both. It’s cause for celebration as it shows the significant steps being made to ensure equal pay for wheelchair and para-athletes and comes after the United States Olympic Committee adjusted the prize money for Paralympic athletes to equal that of Olympians. 

With the New York City marathon set to take place on Sunday, November 6, runners can feel confident that not only will theirs be a significant run simply due to the nature and history of the course, but it will also be a run in which they are supported – no matter their age, sexual orientation, or ability. 

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