EDP Media Maratón de la Mujer

Interview Sophie Power

  • 4th of July 2019

Too many things to do on the run and trail races… Only 10% of female participation. What can we do to improve this figure?

The UTMB was only 10% female and whilst I would love it to be 50%, it does seem that more men than women are truly interested in pushing themselves to the limits!  Female participation in running is increasing and some races in the UK are almost 50% now.  Across the UK we have free, no registration 5km events every saturday called Parkruns which are wonderful welcoming environments for women.  The more events that feel like that and the more running clubs help those just starting as well as experienced runners the more women will run.

You couldn’t run the UTMB in 2014 for being pregnant, and you had some troubles to start this past edition because you have to breastfeed your 3-months kid. It has become an iconic image and a good example for all the mothers worldwide. What do you think of this picture? What do you think of what the others told you after the race? Would you do it again?

I had no idea this picture would have had the reaction it did - I only thought it might get the organisers to change their mind on pregnancy deferral! (they still haven't).  But it has gone truly global and I don't think it is because in hindsight it was a little crazy to run 106 miles 3 months after having a baby. I think it is because it has given women a reason to talk about how hard it really is to juggle everything once you become a mother.  The first thing to drop is usually the passions you had before you had children and that should not be the case.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely - I have been in tears so many times from the amazing stories women have sent me.  We now need to keep talking about this and not let this opportunity to empower women and mothers pass.

Now you are running the EDP Half Marathon de Madrid. What do you think of these kind of run races only for women? Do you know in Spain women represent only 15-20% of the participants in run races?

I think women only races are a great way to provide a friendly environment to run and encourage more female participation.  Having a race in the diary is a great way to focus training and even start running in the first place so we should definitely support any welcoming race.  To increase participation we also need friendly running clubs and support for women to get out there - as well as sharing stories of women who do.

Training and motherhood. How to handle it? What are the difference between you and other trail runners (training, schedule…)?  With difficulty!  I think the biggest thing is to reset your expectations.  Unless you are a professional athlete sport will be less of a priority than before.  You might not be able to run the same times for a little while and that's ok!  Training definitely becomes more focused - "junk" miles are out and I've worked out how to stay fit enough on a low mileage.  I manage my training around work and childcare partly by running my commute - running is quicker in London than any other form of transport anyway!  The races I do have changed as well - before I used to run week long ultramarathons in places from Nepal to Cambodia.  Now I focus on single stage events 50-150 miles where I won't be away from the boys for very long.

Are the sport events (races) ready for pregnant athletes or mothers?  I don't know of races that have stopped women taking part because they are pregnant - obviously you wouldn't be running 100 miles but many women are comfortable running fairly long distances (I did 50 km 6 months pregnant with my first son).  The onus is on the women and their medical advisor to work out what is safe.  For mothers (and fathers) it would be great if more races were welcoming of running buggies!  

Is this your first race in Madrid? What do you expect?

Yes its my first race there!  I have been several times to visit friends and love the city - one of my best friends just moved back there and my strength trainer of 7 years is moving to Madrid in December so I'll be there a lot in the future too.  I love how Spanish women have embraced my message so strongly and I can't wait to meet them at the race!

 

Thank you for being an example in linking the passion for sport and motherhood.

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