February 3, 2018 at 8:23 pm #53215
In my opinion, this question has a simple answer.
On the track, men and women run the same distance.
On the road, men and women run the same distance.
So why not on the cross country course?
When I was in high school, Wisconsin raised the distance for the girls from 3200 meters to 4K. Boys have, for as long as I’m aware, run 5K. It took another 2+ decades to create true gender equity and allow the girls to also run 5K. This equity finally reached Wisconsin in 2014.
The NCAA is a different story.
Divisions I and II: Men run 10K, women run 6K at championship meets
Division III: Men run 8K, women run 6K
Why don’t all runners at all divisions run 10K or meet in the middle at 8K? Personally, I think 8K is a great distance for a collegiate cross country race and I say that as a runner who would have benefited from an extra 2K to wear opponents down.
I could see an argument, though I wouldn’t agree with it personally, if men and women were running for about the same amount of time. But the top women are running for around 20 minutes and the top men are running for around 30 minutes (or 24 minutes for Division III). Especially in Divisions I and II, the duration of the race would actually be closer if the distance was the same.
February 8, 2018 at 4:41 pm #53220
I would say that the answer is yes, men and women should run the same distance. After reading some of the comments from elite women, I am not certain that in every case women should adopt the men’s distance. It’s cross country. I am not even certain that the distance needs to be standard. Why not let geography rather than round numbers dictate the course length. If a great course measures 7.6K, run that. If the meet is hosted somewhere else next year and the course measures 9.2K, great! So long as all of the competitors run the same course and the same distance, it can be a great race. Perhaps just have a distance range as a guideline and let meet organizers set up a great course.
February 8, 2018 at 5:58 pm #53221
Now, there’s an interesting idea. Why bother with a set distance. I’m sure anyone who has run high school cross country can think of at least one course where you ran around a baseball outfield or a football field just to get to the standard distance. It’s cross country, why have standard distances?
Give a set distance range, maybe 4K to 5K for high school and 8K to 10K for college and the pros. Then build a course that makes sense. As long as the runners know ahead of time what the distance is going to be, what’s the harm?
I really like that, it’s a great idea.
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