The New York Marathon has come under fire for excluding a runner with a stoma. But across the board, are major running events doing enough to make people feel included?
Like many large-scale running events, the New York Marathon is a chance to celebrate hard work, dedication, charity and community. Runners from all over the world, from a variety of backgrounds, come together in a show of solidarity and support.
It’s hard not to become emotional watching clips from the finish line, or hearing stories from those competing.
But this weekend, the New York marathon came under fire after Gayle Redman, a runner from Wales, was forced to withdraw over a backpack which carried supplies for her stoma.
Redman, who is 47 and has competed in numerous marathons including London, needs hydration, nutrition and medical supplies while running following endometriosis injuries.
New York Road Runners (NYRR) which organises the race, had said Redman’s bag didn’t adhere to the race guidelines, which include strict security measures.
Since news of Redman’s exclusion was made public, social media users have criticised event organisers for what some deem archaic and unnecessary protocols.
‘Security risks? Couldn’t they have just examined the vest and its contents? […] I get why NYC is intense with security measures, but still’ said one Instagram user.
Redman shared that the New York marathon had been ‘on the bucket list for quite some time’, and she was overjoyed to be registered as a disabled competitor six months ago.
Having to withdraw at the last minute meant that Redman lost $500 in registration fees, as well as the money she’d spent on accommodations and travel.
Event organisers were sent a photo of Gayle’s vest pack prior to the event, which holds extra liquids and food to keep her hydrated on long runs. But she was told only waist belts were allowed, a type of aid that would affect her stoma.
At this point Redman began making alternative preparations, and contacted the CEO of the New York Marathon as well as the inclusion team.
Despite her best efforts, Redman was told she could only run with a clear backpack that would hold water but no medical supplies.
‘I can’t run without my medical supplies. I can’t run without appropriate hydration. I can’t decide between the two which one I’m going to sacrifice,’ she said.
As a result, Gayle’s husband, who suffers from a neurological condition, also had to withdraw from the marathon.