Gwent League Proposals
Each club should consider these options and then will be asked to submit 2 votes per club.
These may be cast for 2 different options or 2 votes for the same option.
Once a preferred proposal out of 1) to 4) is established, clubs will be asked in a second vote to confirm that this proposal should replace the Status Quo.
1) The Scottish Method
Men and women run the same distances (in separate races) but at the start of season races are shorter (around 5k) and gradually increase for both genders through the season (to around 10k). This could help to increase participation as new runners would feel more confident in tackling the shorter distances so it would be a good bridge from parkrun. It also provides variety across the season, caters for all athletes and helps to build fitness through the season.
2) Meeting in the Middle
Men and women race in separate races but for the same distance of around 8km (this will vary slightly depending on courses and weather conditions). This option would be easy to manage and allow for complete equality. Along with this, there could be an added ‘Vets’ race at a shorter distance if needed.
3) One Long and One Short Race
Men and women race together and can choose between the shorter course (around 6km) and the longer course (around 10km). This option provides great opportunities for athletes training for different distances and could really help to increase participation. It also makes it easier for junior athletes to transition to the senior races
4) Equal Length of Time
Men and women run in separate races over distances designed to give the middle finisher in each race a time of approximately 38 minutes. Initially, distances of around 9km for men and 7.7km for women are suggested, subsequently adjusted in the light of experience and the nature of the course. This option provides an equal racing experience for men and women in a sport often subject to foul weather. Where distances are quoted, course organisers would of course have a margin (+/- 10%) to arrange for convenient loops.
The Status Quo
At the moment, the distance of any race (regardless of age group or gender) is set (after due notice) by member clubs at the League AGM. There is no automatic link between race distances in different categories. If the status quo is maintained, there is nothing to prevent a future proposal to change the distance of the women’s (or any other) race. We do need to conform to the 2010 Equality Act (equal opportunity regardless of age and gender), which does allow event organisers to take into account average physical characteristics, and to aim to increase participation (as when the current women’s distance was set). This can be handled within the status quo.
Option 3: Unless I have missed something this will get really complicated for team scoring unless it is implicit that only one or the other distance counts for the team competition.
Option 4: This sounds like overcomplication for the sheer fun of it.
Option 2: The sensible one.
The status quo: The one that women I have spoken to on this subject ever since I started taking part in 2007 have been perfectly happy with. (Quite obviously - and I shouldn't have to spell this out - I can only speak about the opinions of women I have discussed this issue with).
My opinion, I'm happy with whichever of option 2 and the status quo that the majority of women want. I think the other compromises will end up pleasing nobody.
It had been annoying me that I had an idea that there was a word that described things like options 1,3 and 4 and this morning it came to me.
"A MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin) is an object, device, or event that is necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters, but insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself."
Some observations in the light of recent events. About two weeks ago there was an online meeting held by the Gwent League for these options and the voting process to be explained and any questions asked.
This meeting was widely publicised for anyone to attend and in total I noted that 23 people attended including Ian McDonald and myself representing San Domenico.
For a subject that apparently creates such strong emotions it was surprising to me that there were not hundreds present.
Additionally if someone was not at the recent meeting or the AGM, how are they sure that they fully understand the entire context? For example, I learned that once upon a time men and women ran the same distance and this was changed to improve the very low female participation rather than the standard assumption (as I had thought) that this was old-fashioned sexism.
The voting system is not as many people seem to think. At this stage the status quo is not an option, a club must vote initially for options 1 to 4 and the majority of the club members who voted cast their vote for option 2 (in fact more voted for option 2 than the others combined by a wide margin). The idea that this is somehow not democratic is quite a baffling one and the implication that the ballot was not conducted in a fair way is to say the least unfortunate especially as this would be trivial to disprove.
Once the outcome of this round of voting is known, then this option is going to be voted on in the same way against the status quo, so at this point nobody has voted to change anything. Is this that difficult to grasp?
The committee keep getting the distinct impression that it is thought by some that the options came from San Domenico, we had no part in their creation.
The committee also keep getting the distinct impression that it is thought (bizarrely) that San Domenico have the sole say on this subject when in fact we have two votes as do every club that competes in the Gwent League.