Race Representativity in (ultra-)running events

Last week, I volunteered for Eastern States 100, at the Aid Station Barrens. While I was considering running it, it was not possible because of the recent finish at Burning River but also because I am still under medical attention for the next few weeks. Of course, considering our location (mile 91), we met all finishers and people were pretty toasted at that time. Our aid station provided all what runners need: grilled cheese sandwich, peanut-butter and jelly, candies, gels but also Rum, beers and vodka. The right fuel at the right time for the runners.

During this 18 hours stay in the woods, I had the time to discuss with fellow runners about almost everything: life, running, work, politics. One topic raised by someone that night was the lack of diversity in ultra running. Not in terms of gender: there is a lot of women that compete in ultra races and women are now the majority in short distances (60% in half marathons). But in terms of race: I do not remember having seen any black dude during an ultra. Sure, we still have the cliché that the fast guys are Kenyans, but taking apart the elite field, black people accounts for less than 2% in road races in the USA.

Yes, our Aid Station had the right fuel. And some people really enjoyed it
Yes, our Aid Station had the right fuel. And some people really enjoyed it

Something more interesting pointed out during that discussion is that this topic has never been addressed/discussed in the media. We can find some articles on the web but not in media such as Trail Runner Mag or Runner’s World. And while diversity (male vs. female representation and performance), age (running ultra at 60 years-old) or even parenting (“should I let my 10 years old kid run 100K with me?”) concerns have been discussed several times, race representativity was never discussed. Is it the taboo of ultra-running (or just running)? Is there anything people do not want to discuss about it? I hope this aspect would be investigated and discussed, it definitively seems to be a topic worth considering.

 

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Race Representativity in (ultra-)running events

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