I love marathons in interesting places! It gives a great ability to check out the place on the run and to have some great memories of unique places. I also love running inaugural marathons that I think have potential to be great. I mean, how great is it to say that you ran the inaugural race? You can only do it once!
The Inaugural Iran Marathon Opens To People All Over…
That is why when I heard about this inaugural marathon in a place that I thought was a fantastic place on my visit, I got excited. I am talking about the inaugural Iran Marathon – on April 9, 2016 – that will take place in Iran and end at Persepolis. That is just such a cool location for a marathon and for it to be the first one makes it even more special.
However, there is one big exclusion for this marathon and it made me far less excited. I mean, it starts out nice, especially since Iran is making a big push to bring in more tourists with the sanctions removed. In big letters, they declare:
The whole first page sounds really great and inviting. I have to say, the timing does not work at all for me this time (April 9, 2016) but I was really wanting to do this one! I have already been there once and really enjoyed the trip so the chance to run the first marathon there – and finishing at ancient Persepolis – was just too much to handle.
With One Big Exception
But then we get to the exclusion on the register page. Here is what it says:
For the first time in history Iran opens its Persian gates to 400 marathon runners. This first limited edition is men only because of local regulations. Female friends and family are very welcome to join the ‘I run Iran’ social activities and tour program.
I understand that the company putting this even on is working within the regulations of the host city and country. I understand it is a huge effort to try and bring an event like this to a place that has never had this before (and where running is not even that big). I also get that they hope they will be able to change things over time as they work with the authorities. But is was certainly not as inviting as it makes it sound. This first marathon in Iran is only open to male runners – shutting out the chance for many others who love running and who are invited to tour but not to run because they are women.
Which brings me to my question for you – as a male runner, would you have a problem running this race knowing that it shuts women out of the marathon? Running is a great tool to bring people together – people from all nationalities and cultures. How many times do you run down the road and wave to someone that you have never seen before and will likely never see again – because that person is a runner as well and we share a camaraderie? And that is the part that I have a problem with (and this is entirely my opinion alone) – that people that we share this camaraderie with will be shut out from participating in this fantastic marathon event in one of the most fascinating historic places around.
Hopefully, they will truly open this even in following years to “people from all over the world” but for now, it is reserved for 400 men. Would you sign up to do it? If you are a female runner, would it bother you to have one of your male running friends sign-up to do this? I am honestly curious to see what people’s perspectives are on this and certainly not trying to start some political discussion so please keep that in mind. 🙂