'We realise we’ve missed the mark on this one', says Ironman England
An endurance run for women named “Iron Girl” has been rebranded and replaced with a night run open to all genders following a severe backlash.
The 5km “fun run” was organised by Ironman England as part of its annual three-day triathlon festival in Bolton, Manchester in a bid to attract more female runners to the event.
But critics said it was “patronising” for organisers to assume women could not participate in the weekend’s main events and therefore needed their own shorter and easier race.
“This feels a little wrong on many levels,” wrote one person on Twitter.
“Isn’t calling it Iron Girl a little patronising to women? Also, why not have a fun run addition that is for everyone, rather than just women?”
Many took issue with the name of the race, asking why an event for women over the age of 16 had the word “Girl” in it.
“We’re Women. Unless you’re going to rebrand as Ironboys? No? Thought not,” one person wrote on Twitter.
Another added: “Hi, I’m really confused about this, it’s called ‘Girl’, so not for grown women, but also not for under 16s. Who is this for?”
Some people responded by poking fun at the concept.
“Ooh fantastic! Can I stop half way to do some knitting and put my husbands dinner on? I may need to redo my hair ribbons and make up too! Absolutely shocking concept. Sort it out,” tweeted one person.
The event was announced the same day Jasmin Paris won the 268-mile Montane Spine Race, beating the previous record by more than 12 hours, which riled some critics even further.
“On a day a woman has not only won, but beaten the course record, in the MIXED Spine race, you decide we are only good for 5ks? This woman had a baby 14 months ago and was pumping milk at rest stops by the way,” one person wrote on Facebook.
Ironman England has since posted an apologetic statement on its social media platforms, confessing to have “missed the mark”.
“After taking your feedback into consideration, we have decided to replace Iron Girl with the Night Run. A 5K fun run open to everyone, aged 16 and up,” it reads.
“Iron Girl was not in any way intended to isolate groups or engender negative stereotypes, however we acknowledge the incorrect way in which the message was brought across.”
The statement went on to explain that the event was intended to empower female runners who may neccessarily be interested in doing an Ironman race, which is a long-distance triatholon race that consists of a 2.4 mile swim and a 112-mile bike ride followed by a marathon-length run of 26.22 miles.
“The event was in no way intended to diminish the achievements and capabilities of women. IRONMAN celebrates all athletes and encourages inclusive participation across all levels of competition and distances,” it continued.
“We apologise again and are committed to doing better as we work to bring more racing opportunities for all.”