Women in Running
Written by Tessa Chesser
Trail running is one of the fastest-growing sports and it has become a mecca for endurance athletes. As a woman in this space, the energy is electric and feels endless, and the community has never felt more encouraging. With more new, talented runners comes new speed and more competition, and we are seeing women’s races become more exciting, close, and record-breaking. Despite all that, there’s an openness that is really present. We rely on, support, and cheer on one another. Being a part of the Craft team, with such talented women, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge that we can tap into, as well as teammates to call when the sport, as it so often does, hurts us. I’m lucky to call people like Emkay Sullivan one of my good friends, and it isn’t just because we are teammates.
Even if we’re running the same race, it’s encouraging that I can call a girlfriend and we can share our anxieties and bounce ideas off of one another. We know each other’s strengths, injuries, and histories, and social media and the popularity of the sport has really amplified and put pressure on our public personas and performances. Still, I have found that my relationships with women in this sport have only grown stronger. And that makes racing even more powerful. The starting line is always the great equalizer. And of course while we want each other to succeed, when the gun blows we are all putting everything we have out there, and we often know what that means on a deep level for the women running around us.
As we think about brands within this sport, I think it’s important to continue to understand the power of women and our ability to compete with “the guys.” For so long, in so many sports, iit seems that men have always been the ones to watch, but with endurance running that’s no longer the case. We as women have been striving for recognition and equality in ultrarunning, even though our performances are often close to, and sometimes better than the men, especially the longer we run. And while we still have a long way to go, it feels like there’s been a shift, like the media and people outside our ultrarunning world have taken notice, and are investing.
With endurance running, there is no selling of tickets, there is no arena to sit in. It’s a dedicated, close-knit community that at the same time, feels like it’s exploding. It’s a beautiful and exciting time to be involved in it, especially as a woman. What I appreciate about Craft is that this company is open-minded and invested in women early on. We come from all over, with different ages and backgrounds. As this sport continues to popularize and grow, I hope that brands recognize the strength, power, and resilience of women ultra-runners. I hope that they learn from those who have been in the sport for a long time and who still crush, and embrace the new runners who are trying it out and have so much promise. I hope that more women can take on leadership positions at brands and races, because we are a huge reason that this sport is growing the way that it is. And I hope that they can help address some of the barriers other women face, like cost of entry, so that they can have a chance to push this sport forward too.
It’s exciting to see how women have transformed ultrarunning and that so many others are finally catching on to what we can do, because we’re not slowing down anytime soon.