Since 2013, we’ve consistently welcomed a higher proportion of female athletes than the industry standard. In 2024, we want to go one step further, and achieve 50% female participation at our events.
Our new initiative – Ultra 50:50 – endeavours to achieve gender parity and set new industry standards to inspire, empower and enable women to take part in events at the toughest end of the running distance spectrum.
In order to do this, we’ve partnered with SheRACES, grassroots running groups, female runners, as well as those not already in the running community, to not only understand the challenges that prevent women from taking part in ultras, but to address these challenges head on.
Threshold Sports adopted the SheRACES guidelines across our events and the Ultra 50:50 campaign seeks to build on their work, and to reach new running and fitness communities and groups.
Since the pandemic, across all running distances, female participation has declined by 10%. The disparity is starkest in ultras, where women make up fewer than a third of participants, compared to more than half of 5k runners. We want to reverse this trend and tackle the challenges to female participation in ultra-distance events.
In September 2023, we surveyed more than 500 female ultra runners regarding the challenges they face when preparing for and participating in ultra marathons. The findings highlighted five distinct challenges.
Over the coming months, we’ll undertake a series of initiatives to tackle these challenges ahead of next summer’s events. Our hope is that by raising awareness of the challenges women face and showcasing the changes we make our events, we can provide a commercially sustainable blueprint for other event organisers that share this mission.
In the build-up to our 2024 events season, we have recruited a team of real female Ultra 50:50 Challengers to help inspire other women to take on the challenge.
Each of our Challengers has a unique story to tell – from a two-time cancer survivor taking on her first running event, to an experienced ultra runner returning to the sport after pregnancy. We hope that their achievements during the campaign will demonstrate that ultra running can be an accessible sport for everyone.
We’ll be documenting the highs and lows of their journey towards Race to the King, our flagship South Downs ultra marathon in June 2024.
“Women face many barriers to being on the start line. Some are societal, but some are put in place – often unknowingly – by races themselves. SheRACES conducted in-depth research on women’s experiences in racing and used this insight to develop the first set of guidelines for race organisers.
“Helping them understand how to get more women on the start line, give us a better experience when we race and equally value our competition. These were adopted by Threshold last year and we are delighted that it has now launched the 50:50 campaign to further its commitment to equality.”
Sophie Power, Founder, SheRACES