Equity and ACXC

While I am always grateful to those who take it upon themselves to organize a race, there were some significant issues at ACXC21 that need to be discussed and that clearly contravened AC’s own equity policies:

i) There was a camera on the lead man in the master’s race. It was there for the entire race. There was NO coverage of the women’s race (which occurred at the same time). Actively choosing to fail to cover women in a national championship race contravenes AC’s equity policy. I do not accept this as an oversight. This is something that should have been addressed in the planning stages. Failing to plan for this sort of thing shows the ways in which women aren’t considered in the planning of national championships.

ii) The social media coverage of the master’s race stated repeatedly that the women’s even was 6km and the men’s 8km, when it’s actually 8km for both men and women - and 6km for those over 70. The defecto belief that women “must” be the ones running the shorter distance betrays the a) lack of adequate preparation for the AC staff on social media re: the women’s race, and b) the sexism that has been instilled in the running community for a very long time (re: women being fragile flowers who can’t handle the same distance as men, so they must be the ones running the shorter distance - not septuagenarians) .

iii) Starting the Senior Men’s race in a time a way that resulted in about 100 men racing through and past the Senior Women who were finishing their race also reflects an embarrassing lack of consideration of women athletes.

When I complained about these things on Twitter, I was told by the CEO that I was “entitled to [my] opinion.” This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact: The event showed a lack of consideration for women athletes and treated them like some sort of side show to the main (read: male) events. National Sport Organizations (like AC) are publicly funded entities that are required to gender equity policies. These policies are meant to be followed. This past weekend was profoundly disappointing. I know that the winner of the Master’s women’s race had to explain to her very upset daughter back home why her win garnered no coverage on the livestream her daughter was watching. Her daughter said, “It’s not fair!” If a 9-year-old knows that, then surely AC and the people who are entrusted with organizing a national championship should know that, too.


I stand with the 9 year old!

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Agree-- especially regarding running the men on the course before all of the women had finished. There is NO reason that the men had to overlap with those few trailing women. The men could easily have done the 3k loop first, rather than starting on the 1k loop which resulted them in catching the women who were also finishing on the 1k loop. If they start on the 3k loop they never catch those women. Totally unacceptable IMO.


Good points. Can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t enough representation on the planning committee? Stuff like this only emphasizes the need to plan further in advance, it did seem like parts of this championship were heavily procrastinated.

Hopefully they take the feedback from the survey they’ve put out seriously and next year will be better. If the same commitment is put into that as there was committing to eating frozen water every lap on the gator (respect) then we should be okay.


Thanks for starting this thread. I was so disheartened Saturday morning over the masters coverage in particular (I had a couple of additional issues to the ones you mentioned) and also noted the overlapping of the tail end of the Senior Women’s race.

In case people here aren’t aware, masters women are disproportionately under represented in masters xc and track. And while many of the guys are supportive there are some that just aren’t. This isn’t the first time that I’ve thought women masters haven’t been valued in the sport. Won’t go into specific instances because I raised them when they occurred and after quite a bit of advocating some changes were made although I’ll say it was energy sapping as the prevailing attitude is that there isn’t a problem so why are you complaining.

How upsetting that a young girl sees her most important role model in sport (her mother!) treated as a second class citizen. No wonder we struggle to keep the girls in sport as they grow. Surely there are better ways!

n.b. I completed the AC survey and communicated my thoughts through that mechanism


Begs the question of why the men and women run together for the Masters race? Is it really that much of a time crunch that they need to be run together? Seems like the participant numbers are high enough to warrant 2 races. Or could you run them somewhat contemporaneously but run the women with a ~5 minute head start?


From where I was standing near the finishing chute, it looked like a tight squeeze for the gator to be passing the women who were still racing. As dangerous as it is to have a motorized vehicle on the course amongst athletes, it could have become much more dangerous if there wasn’t space for the gator to pass with the still tightly bunched men’s field close behind.


It was a tight squeeze during the race when the lead men were passing some of the women and the men they were lapping.

AC said they’d have a conversation with the Canadian Master’s Association to see if they’d be interested in separating the men’s and the women’s races.


Agree with all these points. These shortcomings are just a few of the MANY witnessed at ACXC 2021. I have also passed my ‘opinions’ on to AC via their post race survey. It seemed like there was not much advance planning that went into this event, certainly not National Championship quality.
In addition to the Gator having to pass the remaining senior women on the course, the operator of the Gator yelled to the women to ‘get out of the way’. Yah, nothing like reinforcing that your race doesn’t matter. Very dissapointing.


That’s brutal. Unacceptable.

I don’t know if this explains everything or anything, but FWIW as of late July - this or any other race/event in Canada, or ANY kind of Live Event indoors or outdoors was not happening. Local municipalities and local Public Health authorities in Ontario had said we are not looking at ANY permits until Aug 1. Consequently the lead time for this particular race/event was severely truncated.

In normal times the Permits are a forgone conclusion - so you can put in the work, spend time, resources and money KNOWING that the race/event will go on. The whole of the Endurance Sports Race/Event Business model is predicated on this. But if what do you do when you have no idea if the race/event will even get the green light??

Nope, this explains nothing. If you think the event will happen you prepare/plan for it. If it doesn’t happen at least you’re somewhat prepared for next year. If you don’t prepare and it does happen you get what we saw on Saturday. AO in Kingston was in exactly the same position, if not in a tougher spot. Hosting AO at the Fort course requires receiving permission from CFB Kingston - the actual owners of the land the course is on. Not surprisingly the military are very risk averse and we didn’t receive permission to host the race until about 6 weeks prior to race day. BUT, we prepared for it way in advance of that in the hopes that it would happen.


I went to preview the course three weeks prior to race day. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday, 20C. NO ONE was working on the connecting trail through the woods. There wasn’t a nicer day to be out there prepping the course. When this was posted on Strava, John Lofranco commented that there was probably lots of time to complete the trail. Most people predicted it would/could not be finished in time. They were right. Not enough work/time was put into this event in preparation - this had nothing to do with permit timelines. Just plain outright poor planning.

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So instead of us bickering here on a Forum why don’t we submit constructive, progressive, and creative solutions towards moving towards the absolute best ACXC that we, collectively as a country can put on? I know I have spoken personally with the key Event Organizer, have submitted suggestions to AC, and followed up with a full debrief to RunnerSpace.

We have a full year to plan for the next one.

You put on 4 great editions of ACXC at Fort Henry in Kingston. You and your team should be applauded for that, and I am sure you have some good ideas to make it all better.


If it’s said publicly it is more difficult to ignore. I’m sure suggestions will be submitted through the survey as well, and that plus any criticism someone reads in this forum should be taken constructively. But the point is the unique conditions brought on by the pandemic shouldn’t be used as an excuse for being unprepared or ignoring gender equity.


Seems like they planned on hosting something since January:



Steve, I don’t see this as bickering. I just wanted to point out that the excuse that they might have encountered permit issues is not an issue at all. And believe me, I have completed the post event survey with a lengthy post on the issues (as I see them) with the event. At this point I have no plans on attending ACXC 2022.

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Correct. I was addressing - the general comments made about this version of ACXC and some of it’s deficiencies.

I work with some of the largest and best Endurance Sports Race/Event Organizers in Running, Cycling and Triathlon in North America and it’s what they have passed on to me as their challenges in this time of the pandemic!

As for the Women’s Masters issue specifically, I have reached out to the OP privately, and have also sent along suggestions privately to AC.

Just curious Steve. Were you given advance notice that the live stream would cover the Masters races? According to the AC site as of the Friday night before the races, the live stream would commence at 10:30am, AFTER the masters races. Was nice to see how much they (AC) values the masters memberships.