8km Race Distance for ALL at the NCAA XC Championships

8km Race Distance for ALL at the NCAA XC Championships

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Molly Peters started this petition to NCAA

We request NCAA Division I, II and III Cross Country Committees and NCAA President Mark Emmert to take an important step forward for gender equity and inclusion by creating equal race distances for men and women at NCAA Cross Country Championships: 8km for all genders. 

While the current men’s Div. I and II NCAA Championship distance is 10km, the women’s NCAA distance is 6km. That’s 4 kilometers less than the men.  (Div. III Championships: men 8km, women 6km).  While boys and girls both run 5km in high school, the inequity of graduating collegiate men to 8k/10km and collegiate women only to 6km is outdated. We propose a compromise of 8k for all divisions for all genders.  

Physiology already proves women are more than capable of adding 2km to their races--which averages only an additional 7 minutes of physical effort.  Additionally, racing both genders on the same 8km course, which most colleges already have (and the men race on all season), is practical and logistically easier. There is no reason men and women should be given separate distances, nor women given the lesser distance because tradition dictates women cannot do the same distance as a man. 

It’s time for the NCAA Cross Country Championships to follow the race formats of other domestic and international races and equalize race distances. The World Athletics Cross Country Championships were equalized in 2016, with all genders competing in a 10km race.  It was just announced that the European Cross Country Championships are equalizing their distances starting in 2023 for all age groups.  Women run the same distances as men on the track as well as domestic and international road races.   

Change is hard, even if it’s only adding one mile.  Some coaches worry that collegiate women might quit the Cross Country team if “longer distances” are introduced.  But the opposite is true. In 2000, when the NCAA increased the women’s race distances from 5km to 6km there was no drop in participation.  In fact, women’s cross country participation has grown.  Beyond collegiate racing, community running events have seen an enormous amount of growth in participation--specifically among women entering longer distance races.  

Women are ready to race longer and equal distances, and we need parity to finally be honored and instilled within NCAA Cross Country. 

We ask NCAA President Mark Emmert to mandate equality in Cross Country by 2023. We propose giving the NCAA and member institutions two years to accommodate an 8km race distance for both men and women in all Divisions I, II and III. 

Please sign this petition to support Mark Emmert and NCAA in making this change for gender equity, and furthering the sport of running. 

#RunEqual2023 Team

Molly Peters-  #EqualDistance Founder. Head Cross Country and Nordic Ski Coach St. Michael’s College. 

Lynn Jennings- 3x World Cross Country Champion. Olympic Bronze medalist 1992

Kathrine Switzer - First woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, 1974 NYC women's marathon winner. 

Joan Benoit Samuelson - First Olympic Marathon Gold Medal 1984 

Kara Goucher- 3x NCAA Champion, 2x Olympian, World Champ silver medalist

Ben True- 6th World XC Championships 2013, 7th NYC Marathon 2021.

Kathryn Bertine- former pro cyclist, activist for women’s rights in sports & author of STAND

Molly Huddle- 10x NCAA All-American, held the 5000m American Record 2014 

Kasie Enman- World Mountain Running Champion 2011


Thank you for signing and joining our #RunEqual2023 movement! 

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!