Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Competing While Male

An Indian runner, Santhi Soundararajan, took the silver medal at the Asian Games in the women's 800 meters. But she was literally stripped of her medal when she failed a gender test.

This almost certainly humiliating test has been abandoned by the International Olympic Committee, but apparently is still performed in Asia. It involves an anatomical test (Your Honor, I can't tell you exactly what a woman is, but I know one when I see one); a blood test (I suppose if a female vampire sucks the blood of a male victim the results could be suspicious, but then she would probably drop dead during a daytime race); a genetic test (in algebra, y ≫ x ∀ x ∈ XX → y ∉ XX); and a psychological test (as Aretha said, "(you make me feel like) a natural woman").

If it is truly so hard to definitively tell the difference between a male athlete and a female athlete, it calls into question the whole practice of having separate competitions based on gender. In fact, when I compete as an amateur in triathlon, the competition is divided not only by gender but also by age, typically in five-year increments. Is there a blood test for that? In some races, there are also separate categories for heavier men and women. These categories are typically won by someone who looks suspiciously small. I wonder how they feel standing on the podium, looking down at the larger athletes they didn't officially compete against and who may have finished with a faster time.

Face it, the way amateur competitions are organized, most of us have no chance of winning. The fastest women my age are faster than me. Some guys 15 or 20 years older than me are faster than me. I say, sports are rigged so that only the fast can win.

I read about one race in which the organizers waited until everybody entered, and then divided the competitors so that everybody was in his or her own age group and could go home with a medal. A competition in which nobody loses!

There's a running race here in Boulder called the Colder Boulder 5K, in which separate races are run for people with finish times in given ranges from that year's Bolder Boulder 10K race. In theory, everybody who finished the 10K between 48:00 and 49:59 should be pretty close in speed and should have an equal chance at winning the 5K. But in fact, the individual races generally go to those who slacked in the 10K, not those who competed consistently in both.

There's a local triathlon, the Boulder Peak, in which the organizers calculate the difference between the recent years' performances of the men and the women. The professional women are given a headstart based on that calculation, and the men spend the entire race trying to catch them. Clearly that's symbolic of something in our society, but I'm not sure what.

The last race I was in, a 5K running race, I came in 32 in my age group. However, I was feeling pretty strong in the last 100 meters, and put in a final kick to pull ahead of a 12-year-old girl. Boy, did I feel good about myself!

What's my point in all this? I'm not sure, but isn't there some way they could come up with a race that I could win, just once?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you have yourself tested anatomically after you beat the 12 year old? Or just your age.

Tue Jan 02, 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger insomniac said...

Good question! Fortunately for me, the Boulder Road Runners, who sponsored the race, don't do gender, age or drug testing. So my 32nd place finish in my age group is safe.

When I got home, I did ask my wife if she wanted to perform a gender test on me, but she just told me to hit the shower.

Tue Jan 02, 09:05:00 PM  

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