The WRN was probably the biggest club in the country with in excess of 3000 members so whatever your views, I guess you could say a lot of women felt the need for a female only club. I am sure there are plenty of good mixed clubs out there but equally, a significant number that perhaps need to look at why they are not attracting these female runners.
It's a bit like trainers I suppose. Plenty of women are happy to run in men's shoes but some of us prefer ones that are specifically designed with our needs in mind.
At the end of the day anything that gets people running has to be a good thing, hasn't it?
Interestingly I have just written a piece for my club newsletter on this. I contacted the relevant Government Department for advice and this is what I was told:
Runners are pedestrians and should follow the pedestrian rules in The Highway Code. It may not be safe to run on some narrow or winding roads or roads with poor visibility so any route should be considered carefully and behaviour adjusted accordingly. Ideally, if there is no pavement and people are walking or running on the roads they should follow rule 2 of The Highway Code. However, it may not always be practical or desirable for large groups of people to do so e.g. large groups of people may find it difficult to walk or run in single file, especially on narrow roads or in poor light. In those circumstances runners should follow rule 5 of the Code. Rule 2If there is no pavement, keep to the right-hand side of the road so that you can see oncoming traffic. You should take extra care and
Be prepared to walk in single file, especially on narrow roads or in poor light
keep close to the side of the road
It may be safer to cross the road well before a sharp right-hand bend so that oncoming traffic has a better chance of seeing you. Cross back after the bend.Rule 5Organised walks. Large groups of people walking together should use a pavement if available; if one is not, they should keep to the left. Look-outs should be positioned at the front and back of the group, and they should wear fluorescent clothes in daylight and reflective clothes in the dark. At night, the look-out in front should show a white light and the one at the back a red light. People on the outside of large groups should also carry lights and wear reflective clothing.
Imagine the Race For Life on a much larger scale and run in exotic surroundings. Women of all ages and abilities, some wearing full traditional Moroccan dress, few wearing "proper" running gear and you pretty much have it. Ten years ago, Nawal El Moutawakel, the Moroccan Olympic Gold medal winner, organised the first women's only 10K race through the streets of Casablanca and how it's grown.
This year it attracted some 26,000 entries, there were 9 Portaloos and no queue! Imagine that anywhere else.
The Moroccan women were facinated by the strange bunch of Western ladies who had decided to join them. As we entered the holding area we were greeted by a lady who kissed us on both cheeks before disappearing into the crowd; that's never happened before!
Photo after photo was taken. Arms around complete strangers all beaming away, just happy to be there. An impromptu warm up and our group rapidly swelled in numbers. We were dancing and laughing. Language proved no barrier as we highlighted the difference in the number of layers we were wearing compared to them. A veiled lady , I'm guessing in her late 70s, lifted her skirt to reveal beautifully embroidered long johns. Now that's what I call empowerment.
We weren't actually sure when the race started but that didn't seem important as we were there for atmosphere, not a PB. They walked, they ran. The men on the side lines giving their support. Young girls taking off trainers and continuing bare foot because they weren't used to them. A sea of gold tee shirts proudly proclaiming "There is no finishing line". How true.