The Chicago Marathon is quietly adding a non-binary division for runners

CHICAGO — Fleet Feet employee Jessica Gorden-Song will be on the sidelines as runners prepare for this weekend’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

“The reason I had to sit out this year is because of the current regulations for trans women,” Gorden-Song said.

The TransRun founder is in a transition phase, undergoing hormone replacement therapy and cannot yet legally compete in the women’s race. But this year, Gorden-Song learned that the Chicago Marathon added a new category for non-binary runners.

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Of the 40,000 participants in the race, 70 people have registered.

Gorden-Song welcomes the move.

“It encourages a sense of inclusion,” Gorden-Song said. “It’s also great for anyone who falls on the gender spectrum and doesn’t identify as male or female, as well as individuals like me who may be in some part of our transition right now.”

Tim Bradley, interim executive director of the Chicago Area Runners Association, echoed Gorden-Song’s view when the organization took the same step last April.

“We’re excited to see that,” Bradley said. “We had one race, our Lakefront 10-mile race, we had a non-binary category for the first time and actually gave out prize money as part of the category as well.”

The New York Marathon also added a non-binary category last year. In 2023, organizers of the Boston and London Marathons will add the division.

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But not all runners are happy, as the move was made quietly and without much notice in Chicago.

“It’s a little slap in the face,” Gorden-Song said.

While the new category exists, there is no elite division and no cash award for top non-binary finishers.

“We don’t get any prize money or medals,” Gorden-Song said. “It’s like, ‘Yes, you’re in, but we don’t want to involve you enough to give you the same rewards for good performance.'”

WGN News reached out to the organizers behind the Chicago Marathon for comment:

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon strives to provide a safe and welcoming experience for all participants. As we are excited to introduce non-binary division, we recognize the opportunity for continued dialogue, learning and progression with our event. Discussions are ongoing with non-binary participants and leaders in our sport to work together toward our goal of creating more inclusive event experiences. “

Bank of America Chicago Marathon spokesperson

The Sunday run will continue to have prizes for all participants in all age categories.

Bank of America also added the non-binary categories for the Shamrock Shuffle and Half Marathon. The Chicago Marathon is quietly adding a non-binary division for runners

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