This open letter is for all members of Athletics Clubs in the Cambridgeshire County area.

To the Chair and Committee of Cambridgeshire Athletics Association

Women & men race over the same distances on the roads and on the track, but in cross-country the women's races are often much shorter, sometimes barely more than half of the men's distance.  Currently, at the Cambridgeshire County Cross Country Championships, the senior men run a 10k distance whereas the senior ladies run 5.8k later in the day.  This isn’t even in line with the National Cross Country distance of 8km for women.

This both downgrades the women's event compared to the men's, and sends a message to girls and those watching that they are not capable of as much as boys. Sport should be empowering girls, women, men and boys alike, not assuming they are unable to run the longer distance and taking the choice away from the runners.

In your response to my initial enquiry regarding this matter you advised that, following discussion with committee members, the reasons for not implementing this change were as follows:

Point 1:

‘The current timetable sees the Senior Women running a combined race with U20 Women and Masters age groups. Over recent years, we have tried to condense the overall timetable in response to comments from athletes and any move to accommodate the longer distance for Senior Women would make that shorter overall timetable impossible to deliver.’

Point 2:

‘The viability of the County Cross Country Champs is important.  The Cambs AA event is one of the most successful in terms of number of participating athletes, allowing the Committee to keep entry fees very low.  Any move to increase the distance for Senior Women may reduce significantly the number of entries in that age group and put pressure on existing budgets, especially when coupled with increased costs this year as a result of the new online entry system being extended to Cross Country Championship entries.  It was agreed that entry fees would remain unchanged.’

In response to point 1 - to not accommodate a request for change simply due to a timetable consideration is not acceptable and unfair.  There appears to have been no consideration to reduce the men’s distance to 5 miles for example and increase the women’s to the same - thus assisting with ‘timetable accommodation’.  It implies that a change to create equality is an inconvenience with little action taken to try and rework the timetable to bring about an equal footing.

In response to point 2 - the point of this open letter is to show you, as our Athletics Association that there IS support to create equality in our Cross Country events.  There were 85 entrants in the 2019 event - it is hoped that this open letter will show you that the support to change the inequality far outweighs a financial incentive.

To not consider a change to our distance by implying we are not worth a small price increase (if numbers were low) is not acceptable and implying that the female runners are not worth the change consideration.

It is 33 years since the women's marathon was included in the Olympic Games. The IAAF have equalised the distances run in the World Cross-Country Championships, and Scottish Athletics have done the same for their national championships. It is high time for competitions in England to follow suit.

Signed:

PLEASE STATE NAME AND CLUB (or area if you would prefer)

Charlotte Sygmuta - Ely Runners

Lauren Thomas - Ely Runners

Hilary Speight - North Yorkshire

Adrian Scruton - Cambridge and Coleridge AC

Emma Fordham - Ely Runners

Jerry Thew - Ely Runners

James Thew - Ely Runners

Lucy Thew - Ely Runners

Catriona Cole - Ely Runners

Jon Evans - Ely Runners

Ross Payne - Ely Runners

Kevin Hutchings - Royton Road Runners

Serena Heading - Ely Runners

Shara Hayes - Ely Runners

Sarah Bell - Ely Runners

Ellen Moffett - Lets Run Girls Ely

Jo Griffin - Ely Runners and LRG

Justin Smith - Ely Runners

Charlotte Nevison - Ely Runners

Caroline Brown, Ely Runners

Eva Wilkes - Norwich Road Runners

Stuart Byrne - Ely Runners

Zoe Evans - Ely Runners

Lucie Knight - Meridian Triathlon Club

Jonathan Price - Ely Runners

Ian Keys - Ely Runners

Richard Hill - Ely Runners

Estivy Díaz Pérez - NA Runner

Kath Gerighty-Ely Runners

Shaun Rhodes - Ely Runners

Emma Rhodes - Ely Runners

Richard Lyle - Cambridge & Coleridge AC

Michelle Bird, Bodymode Running Club

Clare Bacchus - Cambridge & Coleridge AC

Natalie Andrews - Ely Runners

Rob Moir - St. Neots Riverside Runners

Fiona Waddelow - Ely Runners

Charlie Wartnaby - Cambridge & Coleridge AC

Liz Hyslop- Ely Runners

Andrew Caines - Cambridge Triathlon Club

Lisa Edwards - Ely Runners

Tracy Loker - Ely Runners

Mark Edwards - Ely Runners

Kieren Drane - Ely Runners

Robert Pope - Ely Runners

Allistair Berry - Ely Runners

Michelle Berry - Ely Runners

Andrew Fovargue March AC

Clare Andrews- Ely Runners

Elizabeth Ludlow- Ely Runners

Cathy Gibb-de Swarte - Lonely Goat Running Club

Gemma Bridges - Ely Runners

Henry Wright - Ely Runners

Katrina Myers- Ely Runners

Dominic Myers- Ely

John Lagrue - Ely Runners

Elizabeth Carter - Ely Runners

Melanie Wiffin - BRJ Run and Tri

Alice Edwards - BRJ Run and Tri

Paul Mitton - BRJ Run & Tri

Anna Douglas- BRJ Run & Tri

Kim Askew - Ely Runners

Anita Lewis - Ely Runners

Jonathan Eason - BRJ Run & Tri

Kyle Armstrong - Ely Runners

Claire Ashton - BRJ Run and Tri

Marco Wassersleben - BRJ Run and Tri

Naomi Course Ely Runners & Ely Tri Club

John Downs - Ely Runners

Cara Macfarlane-Ward - Ely Runners

 Kirby-cook Ely Runners

Ray Harding - Ely Runners

Andrew Scarlett - Ely Runners

Adam Smeeton- Ely Runners

Nicola Knott - Ely Runners

Zoe Shackleton - Ely Runners

Tim Abberley - Ely Runners

Sarah Luke - Ely Runners & Ely Tri Club

James Ryder - Ely Runners

Alison stewart-Ely Runners

Simon Grimshaw - Ely Runners

Kate Faulkner - Ely Tri Club

Gwen Graves - Ely Runners

Don Abeysekera - Ely Runners

Peter Vasey - Ely Tri Club & TRA

Claire Haggart - Ely Runners

James Hall- Ely runners

David Warren - Ely Runners

Ben Morris - Ely Runners

Alex Metcalfe - Ely Runners

John Turner - Ely Runners

Adam Earl - Ely Runners

Ian Blatchford - Ely Runners

Ruth Pegington - Ely Runners

Paul Griffin - Ely Runners

Alice Synge - BRJ Run and Tri

Colin Batchelor - Ely Runners

Charlie Ritchie - Cambridge & Coleridge

Claire Kennedy - Cambridge & Coleridge

Christof Schwiening - Cambridge Runners

Max Schwiening - Cambridge Runners