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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘A little bit of legitimacy’: Prairie Fire funds non-binary running categories

Cheyanne Tull
The Prairie fire marathon runners and half marathon runners start their race at 7:30 a.m. in downtown Wichita on Oct. 8. There were 293 marathon runners and 802 half marathon runners.

Thanks to a group of local runners, the non-binary running category was funded for the first time at this year’s Prairie Fire Marathon. 

The Prairie Fire Marathon is a Wichita-based race that takes place every fall and spring. The Fall race is a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon in the spring.

They provided the same prizes as the male and female categories: $400 for 1st place, $200 for 2nd place and $100 for 3rd place.

Karen Carlo, a Wichita State graduate student in sociology, said in an email to The Sunflower that there has been a push in road racing communities to not only have a non-binary category at local marathons but to fund the top three winners.

 A local runner in Wichita, Zachary Gingrich-Gaylord, spearheaded this project. He originally planned on funding just the marathon category on his own, but after a Facebook post, the mother of one of his friends offered to fund the rest of the categories.

“It wasn’t a discount category,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. “It’ll take time to build confidence and there’s probably a lot of reasons why maybe people wouldn’t necessarily want to run under that category.”

Gingrich-Gaylord cited the anti-LGBT bills sprouting up in Kansas, which he called “copycat bans” from legislatures across the country, as a potential reason why people wouldn’t run under this classification.

He said this cause is important to him because he has a gender-nonconforming teenager.

“They are not a runner; they want nothing to do with it,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. “But it’s also important for me for them to be able to see the world open up to be accommodating to them and people who identify as gender expansive.”

The London and Boston marathons are the only two of the six major marathons to offer a non-binary running category. This year was the first time either marathon offered this category in person. Neither of these marathons offered prize money in the non-binary category.

“Prize money often attracts more competitive runners who think they have a chance to do that,” Gingrich-Gaylord said. “Which puts a little bit of legitimacy on it, but you also want to see people at the top of their abilities doing something because that’s really inspiring.”

Registration is open now for next year’s spring and fall races. Gingrich-Gaylord said that he hopes that the race’s sponsors could continue to fund non-binary runners like they fund prizes for all other categories.

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About the Contributors
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.
Cheyanne Tull, Reporter
Cheyanne Tull is a first year reporter, photographer and illustrator for The Sunflower. Tull is double majoring in graphic design and journalism & media production. She hopes to work for outdoor publications in the future combining creativity, nature, and rock climbing. Tull uses she/her pronouns.

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