The New York City Marathon announced plans to make the event more accessible soon after the Boston Marathon introduced a new nonbinary category for runners in its 2023 edition.
Earlier this month, the New York Road Runners (NYRR), the organization in charge of the New York City Marathon, announced an extension of inclusivity programs for this year’s marathon. The initiatives are aimed at assisting runners from underrepresented groups.
Inclusion for nonbinary runners
In June 2021, NYRR became one of the first major running organizations to include a nonbinary category in its races. This year, they’re going even further by making The New York City Marathon in 2022 the first World Marathon Major to provide prizes to nonbinary runners. The World Marathon Majors are a collection of six major marathons from across the world, including Berlin, London, Chicago, Tokyo, and Boston.
The top five athletes in the new nonbinary category will each get a cash reward, with the overall winner receiving $5,000. The nonbinary category is only for recreational runners; there is no professional nonbinary category at this time. The winners of the men’s and women’s open divisions (for professional runners) each receive $100,000. There is currently no prize money for the top men and women who are not pros or who do not fit into any other group, such as NYRR members or masters.
The New York City Marathon will not be the first event to award monetary prizes to nonbinary racers (the Philadelphia Distance Run and the Brooklyn Marathon and Half Marathon have done so), but it will be the first World Major to do so.
Last year’s race had 16 participants who identified as nonbinary. According to Kerin Hempel, CEO of NYRR, 60 nonbinary runners are expected to line up at the start this year.
The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, the official charity of the historic Stonewall Inn, highlighted NYRR’s work as part of the fight to increase diversity. Based on certification measures such as proper training, rules, and standards that promote safety and advocate for equality, the organization designated the New York City Marathon as a Safe Space for the LGBTQ+ community. According to NYRR, the New York City Marathon is the first sporting event to receive the certification.
“A lot of the work we’ve been doing as an organization has been about ensuring people not only feel included but feel that they have a sense of belonging,” Hempel says.
Support for breastfeeding runners
The New York City Marathon is also increasing its support for breastfeeding runners. NYRR aims to offer extra breastfeeding stations at various sites during race weekend in collaboration with &Mother, a nonprofit co-founded by Olympic middle-distance runner Alysia Montaño, who announced on Instagram that she will be racing this year. Private lactation areas will now be available at the marathon’s expo, at the start, throughout the race, and near the finish line. Organizers will also continue to transport nursing pumps from the starting line to the finish line for runners, as they have for the past decade or so.
“We wanted to make sure nothing was standing in the way of mothers being able to participate at their best and feeling confident they would have resources at the start, finish, and along the way to ensure they could have the most positive race experience,” Hempel explains.
Equality for every body
In the same release, NYRR revealed that the course-record bonus for the professional wheelchair division will now be identical to the course-record award for the pro open division—$50,000 for each.
The New York City Marathon will be held on Sunday, November 6, with 50,000 runners expected.