‘Hurtful’: Activist whines Chicago Marathon didn’t make a big enough deal about its new ‘non-binary division’

The woke Chicago Marathon is quietly adding a non-binary division for 2023 and one runner is calling it hurtful because it feels like it is being “brushed under the rug” when it should be a really big deal.

(Video Credit: ABC 7 Chicago)

The marathon starts on Oct. 9 and is one of the biggest events of the year for runners. The division will recognize runners who don’t identify as male or female. The move is not splashy enough for some in the division and they are not happy about it.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that there was no major announcement to coincide with the division.

“Personally, it feels hurtful because it feels performative, or brushed under the rug because it really is a big deal,” activist Cal Calamia told the media outlet, insisting non-binaries were “excited” to compete in their hometown.

The announcement for the new division was made in September, albeit quietly. It will be included in the competition for 2023. London has also announced the creation of a non-binary division for 2023.

Fleet Feet employee Jessica Gorden-Song will be a spectator this year. The TransRun founder is transitioning, undergoing hormone replacement therapy, and can’t yet legally compete in the women’s race. But that will change next year with the addition of the non-binary division.

“The reason I had to sit out this year is due to the regulations which are in place for trans women,” Gorden-Song said according to WGN9.

“It does promote a sense of inclusion,” Gorden-Song remarked. “It also is great for anybody who falls on the gender diverse spectrum who doesn’t identify as either male or female, as well as individuals like myself right now, that are maybe in between a part of our transition.”

“This year would have been perfect for me to participate in the non-binary category,” Gorden-Song told the Sun-Times. “Not having any races I could participate in really took a mental toll on me this year.”

Chicago Area Runners Association Interim-Executive Director Tim Bradley is also thrilled over the division.

“We’re happy to see it,” Bradley said. “We had a race, our Lakefront 10 miler race, we had a non-binary category for the first time and actually awarded prize money as part of the category as well.”

The New York City Marathon had a non-binary division last year. The Philadelphia Distance Run was the first large race in the country to create a non-binary division and offer equal prize money. That occurred last year as well.

“As a trans athlete, showing up and registering for these races is a hard thing to do, because there’s not usually space,” Calamia told the Sun-Times in an interview. “What makes it easier is when big organizations with a lot of power say, ‘We’re adding this category and we’re proud of it, and we’re doing what it takes to celebrate these runners who are now being invited to our event.”

Approximately 70 runners are registered for the non-binary division in the Chicago Marathon. For context, there will be somewhere around 40,000 people taking part in the marathon.

“While we’re excited to introduce the non-binary division, we recognize the opportunity for continued dialogue, learning, and progress with our event. Discussions are ongoing with non-binary participants and leaders within our sport to work together towards our goal of creating more inclusive event experiences,” Chicago Marathon spokeswoman Alex Sawyer told the Chicago Sun-Times.

This year, the race will feature defending champions Ruth Chepngetich, of Kenya, Seifu Tura, of Ethiopia, and Americans Tatyana McFadden and Daniel Romanchuk.

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