When I set out to make my 2014 goals, I said I wanted to PR at the Cincy Fall Half Marathon. Well, friends, the Cincy Fall Half Marathon changed courses, and now it’s out in the ‘burbs. And who wants to run a half marathon in the ‘burbs? Not this girl. Panicked, I looked around for another fall race, full well knowing that I didn’t want to deal with the hassle or cost of travel logistics.
Just when I was about to throw in the towel and settle for a shorter race, the organizers of the Flying Pig and the Hudy 14K (two of my favorite races), announced a new fall half marathon in Cincinnati: The Queen Bee Half Marathon.
I had mixed feelings. Big time. You see, this new race is a women-only event. And while I’m all for empowering women, I do not believe in doing it at the cost of sexism, which a lot of events and products and businesses get really wrong. Plus, was I going to have to deal with women wearing tutus? Sigh.
But all the stars were lining up perfectly. My good friend, Tessa, and I had been throwing around the idea of doing a fall race together. We’d run the St. Louis Rock n Roll half marathon a couple of years ago, and I thought it might be nice to give another race a shot. And she just so happened to be available for a Cincinnati trip the weekend of Oct. 11.
So I decided, what the heck, instead of hating on women-only races, I might as well run one to give myself an informed opinion. Plus, the Queen Bee is a non-profit race, so the proceeds go toward charity partners that support women’s initiatives. Now that’s something I can get behind.
And to sell me even more on the Queen Bee, the race organizers answered all of my questions with best-case-scenario answers:
Tell me about the route – it’s different than the Flying Pig. What did you want to do differently? And why? When we planned the route, we wanted to take advantage of the free parking that our partner at Horseshoe Casino offered, so we knew the route would start/end there. We also were mindful about the progress Cincinnati is enjoying with so many construction projects around town! So we planned out a route that didn’t conflict with the construction and was safe for our participants, as that is our main goal, but was scenic and included some of the same areas that make the Flying Pig route so fun!
On the website and Facebook, the race has mentioned listening to people and “giving them what they wanted.” How did you do this? What were some of the overwhelmingly popular requests? Before we ever announced we were planning a half marathon, we conducted several focus groups in town, and also put together an advisory panel made up of members from the Greater Cincinnati running community. They were eager to give their suggestions and advice as we went ahead with our planning. Some of the things they said they wanted were a route through a historic neighborhood, which we think we’ve done with Hyde Park, and with the addition of Mt. Lookout to the route.
They wanted to be pampered, which we’re planning with massages, hair styling, nail styling and more; and, they wanted to feel special, which we are doing with the ‘swag’ they’ll receive. We say they’ll be getting swag ‘from head to toe,’ with flip flops for the half marathoners, headbands and more.
Why exclusively women? What’s the motivation? Sell me on the women-only racing state of mind. The female-themed event makes so much sense since Running USA’s annual report on half marathons in this country shows that for the first time in history, 61% of U.S. half-marathon finishers were females (approximately 1,196,000, a record), the highest proportion of any race distance. We have been promoting the Queen Bee as a way to get started running/walking, whether it’s our half marathon or four-miler.
We want women to get involved in the sport and lead the way in health and fitness in their families. Because it’s shown that moms are the greatest influence to a family’s health, and if mom’s fit, the family tends to fall in step. That’s our primary focus, getting women active and, as a consequence, getting their families active as well.
OK, OK. This mom/woman/runner is sold. Bring it on, Queen Bee. I’ll be ready for you Oct. 11. And you should, too! Sign up today before rates go up. — Aidz