Equal distance for everyone

Alex Weiss/Sports Editor/aweiss@mail.smcvt.edu

Molly Peters coaches both Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams at the First Euality Invitational on September 25, 2022.

On Friday, St. Michael’s College is hosting The Equality Invitational, an on-campus race where both the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams run eight kilometers.

Normally, women’s teams run a 5k and men run an 8k.

This does not happen in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), so collegiate athletes are not prepared to run professional distances.

St. Michael’s College cross country runner, Katie Culliton 24’, does not understand this concept.

“In collegiate and professional track, women run the full 1600 [meters] and 3200, so why aren’t we preparing high schoolers to run those distances?”

Culliton, who grew up in Glens Fall, New York, never ran the same distance as the men until last year when the first ever Equality Invitational was held.

“I remember feeling so confused
as to why the girls had to run shorter races, races only 100-200m shorter,” Culliton said “This race is a great op- opportunity for women to show that this old tradition is senseless.

“This race is a representation of not only the future of running but the future of all women’s sports as we fight for equality for all.”

Molly Peters, the head coach of St. Michael’s College Cross Country and Nordic Skiing, is the main organizer of the race.

Peters, a graduate of Middlebury College, has been at St. Michael’s College for 18 years and fighting for equal distance for runners and skiers for a decade.

“We succeeded on the Nordic skiing side of things so I’m really putting my focus on running,” Peters said.

The goal of the race is to prove that women are capable of running a full 8-kilometer race, Peters added.

“What message do we send to women when they only run 60 percent of the distance the men run?”

Peters first noticed the inequality in high school, when she wrote a paper on Title IX, the law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools. However, becoming a coach gave her a deeper understanding of sports inequality.

“It wasn’t until I had my own athletes and my daughter, and thought about her running the same distances as I did 25 years later… that really hit home.”

Peters has been in contact with the NCAA Women’s Committee in Athletics trying to turn this one-off event into a national standard. However, this has not been an easy process.

“I have written numerous proposals, they’ve gone to the cross-country committees and they’ve gotten rejected, so I sent them higher up and they got rejected again,” said Peters.

The NCAA Women’s Committee in Athletics has re-opened the case, so Peters remains hopeful.

When you can’t run, you walk. If you can’t walk, you crawl. And right now, St. Michael’s College Cross Country
is crawling and clawing their way to equality by any means necessary.