Boston Marathon creates nonbinary division for 2023 race

Nonbinary athletes will be able to run in next year's Boston Marathon without having to register as members of the men's or women's divisions, race organizers announced Monday.

The Boston Athletic Association, which administers the prestigious marathon, said it's been working to expand opportunities for nonbinary people — not just for the marathon but for the BAA's other races, which include a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon.

Organizers confirmed the change as registration opened Monday for the 127th running of the marathon on April 17, 2023. A field of about 30,000 is expected for next spring's edition of the storied race.

Nonbinary athletes can submit entry applications if they've completed a marathon as a nonbinary participant during the current qualifying window, the BAA said. It said it's still working to establish qualifying standards for nonbinary participants, but that its online applications will include 'nonbinary' as a gender option.

"Discussions are ongoing with nonbinary athletes in an effort to further promote inclusion at all BAA events,' the organization said, adding, 'We view this first year as an opportunity to learn and grow together.'

Nonbinary pro miler and 1,500 runner Nikki Hiltz, who came out as transgender last year and narrowly missed a spot on the US team for the Tokyo Olympics, lauded the move.

'There's still so much work to be done but I'm thrilled that nonbinary runners are being acknowledged by the Boston Marathon and BAA,' Hiltz tweeted.

One Twitter user wrote that he saw the decision as a 'good compromise' on the issue of gender divisions in sports, but others disagreed with the move. 

'I'm sure no one will abuse this,' another Twitter user remarked sarcastically. 'Especially for a race that is notoriously tough to get qualified for.' 

The Boston Marathon is the latest major marathon to begin adding nonbinary divisions.

Last year's Philadelphia Distance Run, a premier event offering a half marathon and a 5K, became the first large race in the US to establish a nonbinary division and offer equal prize money.

The Brooklyn Marathon and Half Marathon followed in April. Eighty-two competitors who had registered as nonbinary participants were among the finishers, including Jacob Caswell, a middle-distance runner for Columbia University.

'Being able to not even win but just compete as yourself, it's just been freeing,' Caswell, who won the nonbinary division in Brooklyn, told The New York Times.

posted Tuesday September 13th
by Alex Raskin