London Marathon 2019 embroiled in sexism row over finisher t-shirts

By Mirror: Saturday, April 27th 2019 at 15:07 GMT +3 | Athletics
New Balance t-shirts are given to all runners who complete the London Marathon [Courtesy]

The London Marathon is facing accusations of sexism after complaints that the t-shirts given to finishers do not fit women.

Equality campaigners have described the unisex New Balance tops provided to all runners who complete the 26.2-mile race as "sexist", claiming that they cater to an average men's size and are too big for women.

As a result, there are growing calls for the organisers of the prestigious race to provide participants with a selection of t-shirts for both genders, as is the case at marathons in Paris and Amsterdam.

Maud Hodson, from the Run Equal Campaign who push for gender equality in athletics, told the Daily Telegraph that making tops more suitable for women would make female runners feel more welcome and increase participation.

“We all pay the same entrance fee so we are not getting the same deal as the men," she said.

"I think it is sexist as being male is the default and women have to put up with it. It isn’t ever the other way around.

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"T-shirts are trivial but it’s another side of the same issue of the world being designed around men.

"If organisers want to increase the amount of participation and make women feel more welcomed this would be a good way to do it.”

A record 40,273 people crossed the finish line at 2018 London Marathon, with over half of the runners being female.

However, many still believe that the UK's major marathon competitions are not doing enough to make sure genders are equally represented at their races

Heather Castle, a 38-year-old two-time London Marathon finisher from Lee, South-East London, added: “Men aren’t made to wear women's t-shirts so I don’t get how in 2019 that we are still being made to wear men's t-shirts.

"It makes you feel like you are not really supposed to be there and not a member of the community.

"We run equal distances and there a lot of fast women out there but it still feels like we are not supposed to be here."

In response to the criticism, a London Marathon spokesperson said: "We have sizes XXS – XXL at the finish. Runners select the size they want, and if they want to exchange after they get home they can contact us and we will endeavour to help."

 

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