On December 4, I was enraged. A photo of the 2016 Boston Marathon Jacket leaked. And it was pink and teal.
Sure, the color scheme was painfully ‘80s (well, early ‘90s, to be exact), but that’s not what bothered me. What bothered me was that that wasn’t the color scheme for the men’s jacket. You see, where the women’s jacket had pink, the men’s jacket had black.
The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and Adidas said the designed to be a throwback to the first Adidas Boston jacket from 1991. But that jacket in 1991 was just teal and black. No pink in sight.
I think my parents (who I was visiting at the time) and my fiancé were surprised by how strong my reaction was to the jacket. I was so angry about it that I cried (an unfortunate side effect of my anger). I was too emotional at the time to clearly express why the pink made me so upset, but now I believe that it is imperative that I do so.
To me, what the jacket represents isn’t a throwback to the 1991 Boston Marathon jacket, but rather a throwback to the view of women that led to this infamous scene:
For those of you who are unaware, that is a picture of a BAA official attempting to physically remove Kathrine Switzer from the Boston Marathon course in 1967. That is because at that time women weren’t allowed to run the Boston Marathon. They were viewed as too fragile, not up for the challenge.
Running – and athletics generally – has come a long way since then. Now women make up 43% percent of all marathon runners, according to Running USA’s most recent annual marathon report. And I find it unfortunate that Adidas and the BAA – the organizer of the most prestigious marathon in the world – would so clearly and obviously separate the men from the women with the jacket design.
When Katherine Switzer first ran the Boston Marathon in 1967, the race didn’t have qualifying times like it does today. Just running a marathon was an accomplishment at that time, so there was no need.
Today, it’s a very different story. Men and women alike train endlessly – waking up before dawn, or running late into the evening, sacrificing social commitments and sleep – to run faster, to grow stronger and get the mythical “BQ,” a Boston Qualifying time. Our efforts – man or woman – are admirable. It takes determination and perseverance.
To run Boston, all qualified athletes, despite their sex, had put in the work, dedicate the hours and pound the pavement for months, if not years, to get to the starting line in Hopkinton. And as such, I believe that we should all be treated like we are: serious, dedicated athletes…not pretty pretty princesses who need a pink jacket to make us feel good.
I am a woman, yes, but when it comes to running the Boston Marathon, I am an athlete first, and I don’t need Adidas and the BAA reminding me that I am a woman. I don’t need the pink jacket to keep me in my place.
This will be my first Boston Marathon (though hopefully not my last), and getting a jacket was important to me. So I bought the men’s jacket, and I paid more money to have it tailored so it fits. It’s a small act of defiance, but when it comes to institutionalized sexism, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.
I qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:06:34 seconds. That is 1 minute and 34 seconds slower than the fastest male qualifying time, the time that men 18-34 years old must meet, even though I’m a girl, and as fellow blogger Tracy Green put it, “despite my smaller heart, [smaller] lungs and lower muscle mass.”
My bib number indicates that my qualifying time places me in roughly the fastest 25 percent of the field of 24,032 qualified athletes, even though I’m a girl.
I was one of 4,744 qualifiers to meet my qualifying time by 20 minutes or more, even though I’m a girl.
And so on April 18, I will proudly wear the men’s teal and black jacket, even though I’m a girl.