Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
18 January 2019

Female runners slam “patronising” Ironman’s 5km “Iron Girl” challenge

The ad appeared the same week a woman broke ultramarathon records – while breastfeeding. 

By Media Mole

Women are famously absent from marathons, Park Runs and running machines at the gym, so Ironman decided to change things.

But the triathlon event Ironman England decided to promote its new “Iron Girl” contest on its Facebook page. This, your mole suspects, may have been a mistake. 

Ironman is best known for its gruelling races that include a 3.86km swim, a 180.25km bike race and then a marathon, all within a 16- to 17-hour time limit. It is considered one of the toughest endurance tests in the world. 

So what did it have to offer its potential Iron Girls? A 5k “fun run”. 

“What sort of training should I do for this?” one user wondered. “I’ve painted my nails and curled my hair. Should I let my gynaecologist know I’m attempting manly sports?” 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

“What time does this start?” another asked. “I’m just a little concerned I won’t be able to get back to the 1950s in time to wash my hair, put make-up on and have the children quiet before my husband arrives home from a busy day of being the chief breadwinner.” Others called it patronising. 

Apart from the fact entrants needed to be over the age of 16 – therefore making them, er, women, not girls – women actually tend to outperform men at the toughest runnning challenges.

Women are three times more likely to finish an ultramarathon than men. And, just two days after Ironman England threw down its 5k challenge, British runner Jasmin Paris became the first woman to win the 431km (286miles)Montane Spine Race, and beat the existing record by 12 hours. 

Not only that, but she stopped at checkpoints along the way to pump breast milk for her 14-month-old daughter.

Maybe in the future she can work her way up to the Iron Girl 5k. 

Topics in this article :