We asked them about their perception of ultras in general, how the Threshold Trail Series compares to the competition, and about the challenges they face when preparing for and participating in ultra marathons. The findings highlighted five distinct themes that we hope to address in the Ultra 50:50 campaign and at our events.
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.
We have always been extremely proud of the fact that our events sit well above the industry standard when it comes to female participation, with around 45% of participants at Threshold Trail Series events in 2023 being women.
However, there’s no denying that women are underrepresented in ultra running, particularly women of colour. The sport has historically been positioned as brutal and macho, and can appear male-dominated or judgmental. These factors, in combination with the perception that they are not “good” or “strong” enough, can deter women from taking part.
*Let’s Do This
Despite this, there are limited training resources for walkers and athletes mixing running and walking. And even when those plans exist, for women with children, balancing childcare responsibilities with the demands of ultra training can be challenging, especially for those who work full-time.
But, of course, they could only feel this way after they’d already taken part! Many women pointed out that, for first-time participants, anxieties related to logistics – including transportation, accommodation around events, and cut-off times – could be a deterrent, especially to women who are taking part on their own.
Given the fact that many athletes will begin preparing for our events in winter, concerns about running alone, especially at night, due to safety issues and fear of harassment during training runs were prevalent. Such anxieties often lead women to avoid running in remote or secluded areas, impacting their training opportunities and limiting their enjoyment of events like ours when traversing such areas at night.
Menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and the menopause can affect energy levels and performance whilst preparing for and participating in ultra endurance events. These problems can be exacerbated when event organisers fail to ensure the availability of clean toilets, sanitary products, and private spaces.