Is the OMM event prize structure wrong?
“Last night I saw an events company had posted about the weekend’s FRA relays on Facebook. They were congratulating the winning teams, but only the men’s. Somebody pulled them up on this in quite a light-hearted way, so they then posted a link to the full results. But others then requested that they edit their original post to give equality to both the men’s and women’s teams. After all, as one of the posters pointed out ‘we worked just as hard as the men”.
Hands up, it was us!
We posted on our social channels about the event and named the first three teams over the line, which were all male. We really offended people:
You never even considered that this would upset anyone because subconsciously female achievement in sport is not considered equal to male achievement in sport and this needs to change! How are women meant to feel worthy and equal if this is how a brand like the OMM treat our achievements?
– Direct Message
Our mistake was focusing on the overall table of results rather than the individual race categories. OMM apologise unreservedly for any offence given. Of course, we were not trying to discriminate, belittle or ignore any of the athletes making outstanding achievements. We want to promote active participation in mountain marathons and similar sports as we believe that these are good for all individuals and society as a whole.
But it raises an interesting point
With female athletes winning other endurance events like the Spine Race, should a race focus on the overall winners or on the individual categories?
This is particularly relevant for The OMM which has always promoted an open race with all teams being treated equally, regardless of gender or age.
As the event requires a number of different skills to do well, rather than solely endurance, this has meant mixed, vets & female teams do win the classes overall.
We recognise that the field is 64% male only teams so we positively discriminate with additional prizes to encourage women, families and veterans to take part. We do not have a male race at all.
But is this fair? Honestly, we can’t say with conviction that it is, but it’s the best we’ve come up.
Here is an extract from somebody who disagrees:
“…..The Snowdonia Marathon has been going since 1982 and the OMM is now in it’s 52nd year. And what does this road race have in common with this fell race? Neither offers equal prizes for male and female competitors…..…….the only possible reason I can imagine that they don’t give equal prizes to males and females is that of “proportionality”. The suggestion being that as more males enter than females, the prizes are divided up accordingly. I do not agree at all that because less females enter, those who do well in their categories are therefore not worthy of the same recognition. Working on encouraging more female competitors by evening up the prizes might be an idea! It’s not rocket science is it?
All of these disparities imply that female events are less important and that female athletes are less worthy of recognition for their efforts. How are we even still having these debates? Why is it not just a given? Races offering unequal prize structures instantly make me not want to enter, not because I may be in contention for a prize that isn’t on offer but simply because it suggests females in that event are an after thought. And so the cycle continues, less females enter going forward so the disparity continues.”
We need your help
So this is where we want you to help. Every year we discuss the results from the event and every year we discuss what we can do to encourage more participation by all ages, genders and backgrounds. It’s a tough one to get right.
- Would you change the race categories? if so how?
- Bearing in mind we currently give out 156 individual prizes. What changes, if any, should we make to the prize structure?
Here’s some more information to help….
The current OMM prize structure
The OMM event has 6 courses of different lengths or time limits and we present 156 prizes. Typically 1000 teams of 2 enter.
Prizes are presented to:
- Overall Course winners
To encourage participation across the categories additional prizes are awarded for the highest placed teams on all courses. The number of prizes is dependant on the number of teams within a category entered.
- Mixed teams
- Vets overall
- All Female teams
- Family Generation
- Military teams
- Vets female
- Vets Mixed
The top 3 teams on each course are publicised as the winners regardless of age or gender.
- In the 2019 event a mixed team:
- Won the Medium Score
- Won the 3rd place prize on the Short Score
- Won the 3rd place prize on the B Course
- Only 1 of the all-female teams made the top 10 on one of the courses.
- The 2019 OMM competitor field comprised of:
- 9% female teams*
- 64% male teams*
- 27% mixed team*
- Percentage of women competing in the last 3 years has risen from: 18%-22%.
- Percentage of all female teams competing on the last 3 OMM events has stayed around 9%
- With this current prize structure 8% of all competitors could receive a prize.
- In 2019, 37% of prize money went to women, who made up 22% of the competitors.
Following this article we opened up the floor to the community for their opinions on the OMM Prize Structure.
Entries have now closed, to allow us to collate the responses and prepare a statement of response.
We thank you all for taking the time to read and respond and for the good nature of the discussion so far.
Our response and any further actions will be announced in due course.