San Francisco Marathon has Implemented a New Division for Non-binary Runners

By Tara Thompson

 On Sunday, July 24th, history was made. With a Race in San Francisco from The Embarcadero in SF to Sausalito and back. This was the first marathon in California to have a separate division for non-binary, bi-gender, agender, and gender fluid participants; as well as supplying a separate category for people with disabilities. The marathon had 25,000 runners registered, including virtual participants from around the world, creating the biggest marathon in SF history.

Cal Calamia, a local high school teacher, and advocate for non-binary inclusion won the non-binary division at the marathon at an exact time of 3:00:00. They were very excited to participate and that the organizers of this year’s marathon embraced and accepted more inclusive running categories giving them the chance to do so. 

“A race is just a representation of society in this small little way, so if your registration options are only male or female and you don’t identify fully with either one of those things, it just reinforces the idea that who you are is somehow wrong,” Calamia said. “So to just add one more option makes a whole world of a difference.”

In addition to adding the non-binary category, the SF marathon organizers also worked with sponsors to create programs for runners with disabilities and runners who have overcome adversity. 

Sagirah Ahmed Noris, a member of the “Not Done Yet Marathon Team,” gives runners who were unable to finish other full marathons a chance to complete the 26.2 miles in SF. Noris got shocking news after she was unable to finish a marathon in Chicago due to pains and parts of her body going numb. After a trip to the doctor, she was diagnosed with Primary Progressive multiple sclerosis. “I was in shock,” Noris said. “I wasn’t even 30, I had a young family and the doctor told me that in 5 years I was going to be wheelchair dependent.”

The marathon organizers also partnered with Jake Fedorowski, a member on the board of Seattle Frontrunners, a national LGBTQ+ running club. Fednorowski created a guide for non-binary inclusion in running by having conversations with industry experts and helping organizers of the Eugene Marathon in Oregon to begin offering a non-binary category for participants. 

Before starting conversations with SF marathon organizers, Fedorowski said “I realized I have a resource here that could be formalized and shared with race directors and people like me, non-binary runners.” 

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