Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Equality

in: philm64; philm64 > 2019-11-28

Nov 28, 2019 9:24 PM # 
In terms of xc, I wouldn’t mind. If the timetable said 10k for women I would run it, but I also quite enjoy the 6/7km race distance.
My bugbear is with orienteering long distance actually. I love a classic race, but to call a race with a winning time of 70-75minutes for women a ‘long’, while the men run 90+mins, is not really offering the same kind of race. The challenge is beyond 70mins when your head starts to go and you make mistakes and lose motivation, which the women don’t experience so much I think.
I’m not saying that would be my favourite race distance (and especially won’t be saying that after Sunday!) but I think the same challenge should be offered to men and women at whatever event you do.
Nov 28, 2019 9:51 PM # 
I really, really, really object to longer distance XC races. It just stops women running them. 7k is a great distance. The only XC I run these days is Borders League which is approx 4 miles of real mud, and hills, and running through rivers and boggy fields etc. I’m not running the Scottish XC until they change it back.

As for orienteering, long was my best distance, and it was always after 50 mins of a long that I would pull away from the rest of the field do I think 75 is long enough for the endurance athletes to show their class.

I think in both situations it’s those that the longer distance would suit best that shout loudest (hello ultra athletes!). A fair compromise certainly for XC would be to set the distance for equal winning times rather than equal distance. What really gets me about the Scottish XC is they didn’t ask those that actually run the race what they wanted. Why not quiz those that cross the line at the end of the race if they thought the extra lap was necessary? Instead some blokes in Scottish Athletics decided that they would be able to set and meet and feel smug about some equality objective by decreeing that we’d all have to run an extra lap. F-off! Survey the athletes - same in orienteering - it’s the only fair way.
Nov 29, 2019 4:09 PM # 
Interesting! Thanks both. I think in Scotland it's now mandatory for XC to be the same for men & women. . Agree the athletes should be consulted, not decisions just made by virtue-signalling "progressive men" (as has happened here in my running club) (mind you, the feminists are boycotting the whole Gwent league now, and some men are joining them in "solidarity". I can't agree to that ..... I've been doing XC since the 1970s, so maybe I'm an old git, grumpily set in my stoic old embittered ways. etc etc).

I'd like to do 6km. Certainly when i get to 65, they ran with the women, and I will NOT want to do 10k of mud age 65.

I personally always enjoy longer O races, like you Claire. But past 70/75 mins, my feeling is the race is kind of won. But I'm quite old now, so that may be irrelevant. I worry that other younger runners are put off the O sport by 80-90 min winning times, as the punters will then be out for over 2 hours, bonking &/or getting hypothermia. Looking at entry levels of elite races recently I could have a point.....

I digress. I'll report back on the SRC guys.
Nov 29, 2019 7:51 PM # 
My view is that it depends what the challenge is. In hill running, you want to run up the hill and back down, so we run the same route, even when that is very very long.

In road running, you run the distance, you want a PB.

In xc, it's a test of physiological strengths and not a test over partial laps of a park. I think the most equal test would be to have even winning times like Claire says. The problem has been that in many xc leagues that the women often run 6km with a winning time not much over 20 minutes, while the men after often running for 30 minutes. 20 minutes is barely a proper session so is quite frustrating. The regional and nationals move up to 30/40 respectively. I'm not sure that equalising the distances solves this - the women end up running for far longer, it is a very different test, and does potentially affect participation.

And yes megan - totally agree on the winning times in orienteering long races. I know there is supposedly a participation issue here too, but at the very least have it proper length in the main national and international champs. Any other races we can always run up.
Nov 29, 2019 8:31 PM # 
Full disclosure: am a) not a girl, b) not a big fan of XC, c) not really a runner any more... and no particular strong feelings either way, but wanted to mention that at the most recent race in the north district XC league they experimented with M & W running the same distance, and in the same race. There was a fair bit of grumbling beforehand: W concerned about distance (initally quoted as 8.5km) and "not knowing how to pace 3 laps". However post-race feedback has been overwhelmingly positive (e.g. - scroll down a bit...) possibly because (judging by strava) actual distance was more like 7.6km but more I think because the women liked running the same race and being in a large field with more competition (rather than being set off a bit before the men and then being mown down by the leaders).
Nov 30, 2019 10:41 AM # 
Thanks both, & hi Tessa, thanks for coming in :-) (it was fun racing you & Cecilie at the JK relay leg one!).

Interesting re. similar WINNING times. And I do agree that 20 mins is just not long enough for the senior women's race. Mind you, 6km XC in 20 mins is going some......!

I'd like to add that I really enjoyed having the opportunity to watch the women's race in Cardiff - some of the top UK runners racing head to head - if we all race together, selfishly that means I don't get a chance to spectate. It was also good to hear support shouted to me whilst i raced from my female colleagues who had done their race. How about : separate races, similar winning times, eg. 10km for men, 8.5km for women? , separate races, giving more visibility to the women's field (rather than "second lady! I think...." shouted from the sidelines).

All just my initial thoughts/ ideas. Also, jayh, it's awful if the men's race is set off so close behind the women's that the back markers get stampeded by the leading men. Not on!!!!! :-\
Dec 1, 2019 8:00 AM # 
At the race I'm about to do, the ladies start 9 minutes before the men, who have to try and chase them down. This is in Spain, but I did a race in France over the summer where the concept was the same (7 mins then I think).
They say that the ladies like this because it means they can see who they're competing against directly, rather than being all mixed in with the men. To be honest I think they're probably just trying to justify the tradition in modern terms.
But it would make XC interesting to do a similar thing; same course/distance but woman start a few mins sooner..
Dec 1, 2019 8:21 AM # 
Cat T:
Hi, also weighing in here! Would like to echo thoughts about having at least ~equal winning time on XC, or equal distance. I think that whichever is used it should be at least least based on men and women running equal something, not just one race having an arbitrary short distance that makes it seem like a "warm up for the real thing"...

Which brings us nicely back to orienteering. Absolutely for an equal winning time in the long distance. At international level I see no valid argument for otherwise. We miss out on a whole dimension when you can usually get round fine without a gel.

Possibly most of all feel that tio and Venla should have some night legs for women. Several ways it could be done and, after having run night o the last two nights and not succumbed, feel that if you give people the challenge they rise to it!

While i'm at it, it does bug me where, in running, women are "ladies" or "girls" while the men are nearly always just "men" ;-) You only start noticing once it's pointed out...!
Dec 1, 2019 8:37 PM # 
Thanks Mark & Cat - Mark, I'd not heard of that before. I'd wonder about the bulk of the women's field getting "swamped" by the mens' field if it caught them up?

Cat - yes I have been aware of this for a while - "girls", hmmmm, no! Fine for juniors - girls & boys, eg. Boys U14, Girls U16 - but at senior level, it should be men & women's races. Occasionally the archaic term "Ladies race" gets used, but as I'm not exactly OK with "Gentlemens' race" either, it should be "women", IMO.

Equal winning times seems sensible. In O, of course, equal DISTANCE would lead to a very long & tough challenge for a lot of mortals. If the winning elite GG / Kris time is 90 mins, then how long is the average senior woman going to be out for? Gulp.

Glad I'm old, frankly. Ran up today tho! ;-)

Chatted to the B&W guy today about this, he's had a myriad of responses as well....... from his female clubmates. Some like ultras - some don't - one things' for sure - you can't keep everyone happy all the time! :-)
Dec 2, 2019 9:34 AM # 
Did you see the cumulative times from WOC long for the legs that were common between women and gentlemen ?
Dec 2, 2019 10:33 AM # 
Phil did say 'mortals'. Not sure Tove falls into that category...
Dec 2, 2019 12:54 PM # 
It was proposed for the Gwent's this year but nobody who turned up to the AGM had any strong opinion so didn't happen. I'd assumed the request came from one of the clubs in the Gwent Leisure Centre League (that's for the actual Gwent clubs) - who changed last season so that the men ran the same distance as the women - i.e. around 6k.

Have to say it would put me off XC if men's distance went down - at least with 10k feels like a proper race but 6k is just a waste of a day's training!

I got the impression the Gwent don't intend to revisit their decision, and as far as I'm aware, it's not yet been proposed for the Gloucester
Dec 2, 2019 3:48 PM # 
I heard from a B&W guy yesterday that the person / club (not B&W, & not Southville) that proposed the change, didn't bother even turning up at the Gwent league AGM. So there was no one to argue / discuss it. Hence the statement on their website.

I am pretty sure it was a Bristol based running club though, not a Gwent Leisure centre club. (whoever they are)

Watch out (Gloucester as well, eh!) - headlines to come - inequality, people! Ooh, those horrid old XC institutions! Filled with narrow minded men. Sigh.
Dec 3, 2019 3:29 PM # 
@megcd My bugbear is with orienteering long distance actually. I love a classic race, but to call a race with a winning time of 70-75minutes for women a ‘long’,
It's reasonable to call that long distance. I have no problem recognising the women's winners at WOC as proper Champions of long distance orienteering.

I think Cat's definition "would you do it without a gel" is a pretty good guide. (so 90 mins is also a respectable winning time)

But since we're on an M55's blog, I'd like to say that a 46 minute winning time like we had at the BOC "long" is completely ridiculous.
Dec 3, 2019 3:34 PM # 
@BrandNewMe: I really, really, really object to longer distance XC races.
Yup, I really really really object to these shorter distance XC races they make us do.

What really gets me about the Scottish XC is they didn’t ask those that actually run the race what they wanted. Why not quiz those that cross the line at the end of the race if they thought the extra lap was necessary?

What really gets me about the Scottish XC is they didn’t ask those that actually run the race what they wanted. Why not quiz those that cross the line at the end of the race if they thought the last lap was unnecessary?

It totally bizarre that increasing the women's race by 2km and reducing the mens by 2km is just an issue for women!

I haven't done XC since they cut the long race to 10km. Can't see any justification for it.
Dec 3, 2019 3:57 PM # 
It's all relative though, isn't it? For me, 50 miles is a long race. 20 miles is a short race. Any length cross country is barely worth turning up for...
Dec 3, 2019 6:44 PM # 
.... and that's the problem - you will NOT be able to keep everyone happy all the time. There's that poll going round , being signed by men (generally progressive, bearded, BS3-dwelling, thoughtful, craft beer drinking, organic eating, millennial men, dare i generalise? ;-) too, to get the XC "equalised" between men & women. Because we are equal!!!! (nb. being equal doesn't necessarily mean we're the same) .

So *some* women could find themselves ploughing round some mudfest 10km cross country (when they'd rather do 6.5km....) possibly because *some* men may have thought they were being "helpful" to women by signing the petition.

I'm going down the "equal winning times" road myself. But that's just me.

And I haven't even started on self ID yet ;-) eg.
Dec 3, 2019 6:52 PM # 
PS. I think 70-75 mins is a Long too. But i totally agree that 46 mins winning time at M55L at the British this year at Kilnsey was a joke. Especially as at least 15 mins of that was a fell race (long leg downhill - 5 mins; long leg back up said hill - best part of 10 mins - to a wall/stile with a drinks station on it - that's not orienteering). (paradoxically of course, this sort of nonsense suits me, personally.....)
Dec 3, 2019 6:53 PM # 
Who says I'm an M55! two days ago I was an M50! :-)
Dec 3, 2019 9:11 PM # 

And I was number 1 on elite
Dec 3, 2019 9:56 PM # 
I feel grossly misquoted ;) Of course 70-75 is reasonably long but the whole point is that compared to the ‘long’ race the guys do, it’s really not as much of a sufferfest.
Back on the xc front, I spoke to B&W coach tonight and he had similar thoughts that the women’s race would be better extended to 7.5km ish in the Gwent league - again nice race distance, bit more of a run out than the 6km we sometimes get, but also not off-putting for local runners.
Dec 3, 2019 11:37 PM # 
Sorry about the selective quote, which I'll pretend was an accident ;)

Some discussion here...

@Claire F-off! Survey the athletes - same in orienteering - it’s the only fair way.

There was an IOF athletes survey back in 2016: 53% of elite women wanted their same winning time maintained or shorter, 41% an increase. I wonder if the numbers have moved?

Don't think they asked the men the same question, which is a bit weird in a discussion allegedly about "equality". Nor did they ask the women how long the men's course should be...
Dec 4, 2019 11:37 AM # 
If the majority agree, then I am happy to go along with that. (75 mins is 2 gels for me btw, one at 40mins and one at 60).
Dec 4, 2019 12:52 PM # 
Good to see opinions on here. Thanks all, again. Graeme does have a point - did anyone ask the men if they wanted to run less than 12km? Or if they wanted to run further, less, or stay the same, for that matter?

Evidently not.
Dec 5, 2019 2:13 PM # 
Old Daniel:
Hi all,
one of the things that seems to have changed, (and I have no evidence of this at all) is that M21E winning time used to be 90 mins and its now 90-100 mins. Sounds a bit subtle but with some of the exceptional performers around a 100 min winning time puts good runners doing reasonably well into the +2 hour club. (Which I think is too long). Its also opposite direction to a 'compromise' 80-90 min winning time for both M & W
Dec 6, 2019 9:47 AM # 
Yes - Charles - also the top guys are super awesome these days, and so the "punter" are, as you say, going to be out +2hours & will bonk, be stiff/tired for days after

I'm sure a lot of ordinary M21s will now baulk at the thought of an elite championship course.

in 2014, at BOC Long, Callaly, GG won in 100, and Mark Burley was an hour behind, ie. 2hr 40. That's ridiculous.

I'd support your 80 min suggestion, for both.
Dec 6, 2019 10:53 AM # 
Of course "ordinary" runners will baulk at the thought of running "elite championships". That's true in every sport, pretty much by definition.

M21E is for gg, not Mark Burley (or me). We need to make non-elite orienteering attractive again, not pretend everyone is an elite.

Agreed, once you get past two hours it is physiologically different from 75/95, "ordinary" people go into elite races knowing that, carrying food, and not bonking.
Dec 6, 2019 2:04 PM # 
I believe the London Marathon usually serves as the (elite) British Championships [and sometimes - for reasons I've never quite fathomed - as the Scottish Champs] and there doesn't seem to be any shortage of "ordinary" runners wanting to take part over the same course. The same goes for championship races in hill running and triathlon (though in the latter the elite tend to be separated from the masses), both of which sports seem to be prospering in comparison with orienteering.

Having been outside the sport for a year now, I'm continually struck with how obsessive orienteers are over minor details**. If any course is 10 minutes over OR under the RWT it apparently means the planner has messed up. This being regardless of such factors as the weather, any restrictions on where the courses might go, or who actually bothers to turn up, and applies even if the course was well planned in all other respects.

I'm beginning to think that, apart from the elite, who have a need to train for internationals, and junior courses which shouldn't put off youngsters, there is no real reason for winning times to be predetermined in UK orienteering. The few people who are competitive enough to be affected by a shift of, say, 20 min in the winning time are experienced enough to be able to cope. Many of the best courses I've run have been nowhere near the supposed RWT (eg. SOL2016 in Affric: Brown course won in 85; I took 102). One of the curernt WorldofO course of the year suggestions is the Czech Long Champs, in which W and M21E were won in 87 and 106 min.

The idea that "long" races for non-elites need to be over an hour is very much a UK thing. According to people here an M55 winning time of 46 min for a long champs is a joke. However, Colin McIntyre won his local Swedish district M55 long distance champs this year in under 45 mins. The winning time for M50 was 41, and for M60 was 36(!). I doubt anyone complained - these numbers seem to be fairly standard for veteran courses in much of Europe. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but it does suggest there is more to a long champs than length.

Bringing this back toward the original topic, perhaps XC runners should also avoid getting hung up on standard distances. As a junior in the North XC League I recall a pretty wide variety of distances and terrain types used. In fact I thought that was the point....if you want to run exactly 10km then go and do it on a road or running track! Make some of the races a bit longer, some a bit shorter, and the racing might get more interesting as a result.

Anyway, sorry for the long rant. The office is empty and I had a lunch break to fill.

**OK, maybe this is because my main sources of info are AP, Nopesport and WorldofO...
Dec 6, 2019 2:47 PM # 
Haha! says the man who ran elite at every opportunity in 2019! :-)

But the numbers at non-elite courses are also low these days. Shame. in JK 1991, there was M21E, M21A1, A2 & maybe even A3, and then M21B. All with many (scores ) of runners......
Dec 6, 2019 5:15 PM # 
I am quite happy being an hour behind the winner on an elite course. Sometimes it takes competing against the top guys directly to appreciate how good they really are.
Dec 6, 2019 10:20 PM # 
Fair comment Mark - I remember you were fine with it! :-)
Dec 7, 2019 9:56 PM # 
I am quite happy being an hour behind the winner on an elite course. Sometimes it takes competing against the top guys directly to appreciate how good they really are.

Please login to add a message.