The skirt chaser: Worst race idea ever?

I think it just might be.

Here’s the basic idea of the Skirt Chaser. It’s a 5 km run in which “skirts start first and guys start  3 min after” and then the guys chase the skirts. The skirt chaser. Get it?

(I’ve got mixed feelings about running skirts–for me, if you like them, great–and this race is put on by a running skirt manufacturer but my feelings about the race have nothing to do with skirts and everything to do with men chasing women. Read Running skirts and sexism for my views on the skirts.)

What a horrible idea for a race.

There’s a reason that the “Run for your life” Zombie run is fun and funny for some of us. It’s make believe. There are no zombies in the real world to run from. But if you’ve ever run from a man, the skirt chaser won’t feel like fun. It’s a bit too close to real life for me.

What do you think?

I know the days of the plain old vanilla 5 km race might be over but I was thinking that the replacements would be fun and playful not creepy and triggering.

The next one is in Burnaby on September 13th.

Image description: women running in skirts

Image description: Men chasing the women in skirts.

About Sam B

Philosopher, feminist, parent, and cyclist!

21 thoughts on “The skirt chaser: Worst race idea ever?

  1. longviewhill says:

    Agh. This is a terrible idea on so, so many levels.

  2. cawmit says:

    Yuck! As an athlete and former (bike) racer, let me add this independent-of-sexism reason why it is BAD. In general, races stage waves so that slower groups start AFTER faster ones; otherwise, there is chaos when faster groups overtake the slower ones (on bikes this can signal disaster, but in running it is not good either). Staging all the women together and then sending all the men after all the women ignores all the variations of staging according to age, experience, elite/beginner/blah-blah and other distinctions that make races go smoother. It is fun to find a cohort and run/ride with them, whereas this is a big snarly mess.

    • Sam B says:

      I’ve ridden bike races where the slowest start first…in Australia. Our bunch, I’m with the slowest say D, starts first and we work together to hold off A, B, and C. Ideally at the end it’s an all out sprint. If I’m dropped by D (sadly it’s happened) I can try to pick up the next bunch that comes by and repeat at ever increasing speeds! Chaotic, I agree, but it can be fun if the groups work together. http://cyclingtips.com.au/2009/05/australian-handicap-races/

  3. Gingerzingi says:

    Agree the concept of the race is creepy.

    As a newbie runner, I was unaware of the issue with running skirts – you’re the second or third person I’ve read who objected to them. I happen to run in a skirt (a skort, more accurately). My reasons are twofold: 1) that’s what I happened to have around, and 2) regular shorts ride up my thighs uncomfortably when I walk or run. The short part of the skort is short enough that this doesn’t happen, while the skirt part of the skort is long enough to preserve my modesty :-) So it seems like a very practical garment, to me.

    Of course, it’s not frilly or particularly feminine or sexy or whatever.

    You mentioned stilettos in your other post about skirts – in my neck of the woods there is actually a race in high heels, shopping-themed and hosted by an outlet mall. How ridiculous, and ridiculously dangerous!

  4. echo says:

    ugh. gross. bad idea

  5. sharonoakley says:

    NOPE, NOPE, NOPE, OMG WTFBBQ! I CAN’T. (Basically, I’m so horrified by this race concept, the only language I can speak is internet) I also have several GIFs depicting revulsion that seem appropriate. How could the race organizers think this is OK?

  6. No words. I just. No.

  7. Ob Knox says:

    you didn’t mention– though perhaps you thought it so obvious it needn’t be said– that calling women “skirts” traditionally means specifically to reduce them to “prey” in a male game of sexual hunting. Men “chasing skirts” means specifically (in my dialect, anyway) men engaging with women in the predatory manner encouraged by typical notions of “picking up chicks.” In other words, this is not just about men literally chasing women (although men do literally chase women and that is, indeed, too close to home to be funny or fun as a “joke”) but specifically about men pursuing women as sexual objects.

    ICK.

    • Sam B says:

      No. I was so busy being appalled by men chasing women in a race that I didn’t even think about calling women “skirts” as reducing us to sexual objects, to be pursued. Partly, I think because it’s not a term I’ve heard used in that way and partly because my initial horror and puzzlement got in the way. I’m still stuck at “What were they thinking? “

      • Ob Knox says:

        “Chasing skirts” is definitely a well-used term roughly equivalent to “trying to get laid” in my region/dialect. I guess it may not be in use elsewhere.

  8. Ob Knox says:

    Also, is it not possible to make a race for women that doesn’t have a creepily sexualizing name? “Skirt Chaser”, “Dirty Girl”… what’s next, “Slut Run”??

  9. Kristin says:

    I agree with the above sentiments. It’s sad and scary what people still think (or don’t think in this case) is acceptable. The saddest part is that people are participating, buying into the concept of this race and all it perpetuates. That’s, to me, the most disheartening piece. Because if this wasn’t well received, well attended, then it would cause the planners to re-think (or start thinking) whether this was a good idea in the first place.

  10. Jean says:

    Those participating see it as a marketing ploy probably. But still want the run, so they go and not really think deeply.

    I don’t jog. But I do wear a running skort sometimes when I bike. No I don’t wear cycling skort since those are padded, I don’t need padded shorts for the distance I’m cycling occasionally in a skort which is under 45 km.

    Sometimes I just feel like wearing something different. I live a car-free life (last 22 yrs.) so cycling is sometimes utilitarian…my transportation. So wearing cycling shorts or walking shorts, I just don’t feel like it all the time. It gets boring.

    Here are some situations where I was glad to wear a plain black cycling skort:

    *Cycling in bike intensive European cities, ie. Copenhagen, Malmo, German cities …where cycling is just transportation. High volumes of cyclists in street or business wear and cycling infrastructure (separated bike lanes everywhere). So for a guy or woman to wear full cycing regalia…it looks after awhile…kind of dumb. Locals think you are racers, when you’re just visiting the city for a few days. I like to blend if I can…when already having an Asian face (as a Canadian) brands me as “foreign”.

    *I recommend wearing a running skort if it’s hot and if many of the local women observe dress modesty. I am not there as a feminist to change other women. I am there as a visitor. Look I grew up in Kitchener-Waterloo and have a close long standing Mennonite friend who wears the white net cap over her hair bun and dress…so I think I truly understand what I’m talking about. And this is in southern Ontario.

    *Going fashion dress shopping. It’s a frickin’ headache actually to be athletically dressed at times in some of these shops. I like wearing a skort because it shows to other women in the dress shops how possible it is to look well but to be a cyclist for transportation, shopping, etc. Some women want to bike but they don’t want to wear lycra shorts, jersey, etc. Yet they don’t want to wear an ordinary skirt that flies up.

    *I am not wearing skort to attract men since sometimes I wear a skort when I’m cycling with my partner.

    As for the shame of covering perceived butts, cellulite,etc. Well, if it means getting more women on bikes and often enough, I’m all for it: clothing options that are still respectful for women and allow her to pursue her sport safely and without thinking something is going to rip/fall down/too tight, etc.

    • Ob Knox says:

      Not to be rude, but no one was suggesting that you (or other women) may not have highly reasonable and understandable reasons for wearing skirts while exercising. The objections people here have are not about that,  and certainly aren’t about criticizing women or blaming them.

  11. Jean says:

    I guess I may have been then, responding to original blogger’s above comments:

    “(I’ve got mixed feelings about running skirts–for me, if you like them, great–and this race is put on by a running skirt manufacturer but my feelings about the race have nothing to do with skirts and everything to do with men chasing women. Read Running skirts and sexism for my views on the skirts.)”

    • Sam B says:

      Right. But in my post on running skirts I agreed there may be people who like them and for whom they work well. But that person isn’t me. That’s all.

  12. […] And I’ve written about races that I think are just a very bad idea. See The skirt chaser: Worst race idea ever? […]

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