Mount Marathon nonbinary division has three racers

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Photo credit: Mount Marathon Race

In March, the Mount Marathon Race board of directors decided to make a molehill out of what is becoming a growing mountain of gender controversy: They voted to establish a nonbinary category of racers for the 96th running of Mount Marathon in Seward, an event that happens every Fourth of July.

Since there is a growing sense of nonbinary-ism among younger generations, the race board could avoid a lawsuit or public embarrassment by simply having a category so that men would — possibly — not compete in the women’s division. There’s still no “test” for gender, but having a separate category might make the race more fair for women racers.

Thus, this year for the first time, there are three nonbinary runners signed up for the race to the top of Mount Marathon, which sits over Seward line a hen guarding her chicks. This will be a first for the famous run that is the toughest 5-K in the country.

Nonbinary refers to people who have not settled in their minds that they are male or female. It’s not the same as transgender, although the category may attract such a competitor.

In all, this year’s race has 956 runners signed up. They get to be in the race through a variety of paths: Some win by lottery, others through being veterans of the race and still others get a one-time petition, or through a sponsor slot. There’s a 375-racer per adult division cap.

Zoe Dohring, who teaches gender studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage, was the first to sign up as a nonbinary racer for the race that dashes out of downtown Seward and up the slippery, shale mountain. In Dohring’s bio, he says he is white, trans femme, non-binary, temporarily able-bodied, queer, and that he has the best time in the country for running a marathon in high heels.

“I’ve dreamed of running in Mount Marathon for all the 10 years that I’ve lived in Alaska, but I’ve chosen to not join the lottery in recent years, knowing that I no longer fit in the category devoted to my sex assigned at birth,” Dohring said in March, when the change was announced.

In addition to Dohring, a runner from Salt Lake City, Utah, and another from Tyler, Texas have signed up, all but assuring that there will be a first, second, and third place prize winner in the new gender-ish category.

The nonbinary division will have its own results and nonbinary participants will receive the same overall and age-group awards as participants in the men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ divisions, the race website says.

Because the event has separate gendered races, adult nonbinary entrants must choose to participate in the men’s or women race and will be placed in a start wave that corresponds with their ability, the race explains on its website.

Nonbinary juniors will run with others the juniors’ race, as boys and girls run together in a single wave.

The three nonbinary entrants may seem like a drop in the bucket out of 956 racers, but considering that the Chicago Marathon has 50,000 runners, and had 70 nonbinary entrants in 2022, which grew to 242 by the next year, Seward’s Mount Marathon race appears to be off to a running start. According to the Non-Binary Racing Database, Alaska now is home to 2% of the all the races in the country with nonbinary divisions.

The race is among the oldest footraces in America and is considered the oldest mountain footrace in the country. It started as a bet between two miners as to whether someone could reach the top of the mountain and return within one hour. The race was officially organized in 1915.

Thousands head to Seward for the Fourth of July, and line the street to cheer on the racers, who scramble up and back from the slope of Mount Marathon, a rocky, ankle-turning mountain of shale and loose rock.

50 COMMENTS

    • Yes and no, by making a new category it caters to the gender-waffling set. At the same time it preserves established groups and avoids the sure to follow costly and time consuming lawsuits demanding fake women get to show how much superior they are to real women.

  1. Alaska’s oldest, nations second oldest race where humans do all the work and happens on the 4th of July, and Seward Alaska owns it, go racers.

  2. If you want a real mountain race, head to Leadville Colorado for the burro race over the pass. The race begins at 2 miles up in elevation and climbs way higher. Racers run , leading their pack animal. Not for sissys.

    • Showing contempt for Alaska or something, Greg?
      Seriously, WTF? Cutting the MM race down contributes… what exactly?
      .
      Know how many people on the planet care if there is a tougher race? Zero.
      .
      Question for you:
      How many times have you run either race?

  3. One of Trump’s first actions as President. Get rid of this at all Federal level in all Departments. Unhappiest generation ever but Baby Boomers and Gen X are to blame. they are the ones in power who created this.

  4. Wow stop the presses and make more room for these three who can’t make it without the government stepping in and holding their hands.
    I want a special division for me so I can be a winner.

  5. Suzanne, I have noticed a disturbing trend that unfortunately even you are guilty of in this article. Is the upcoming holiday the “Fourth of July”, or Independence Day? Maybe it’s just me being picky, but the value of the holiday is lost referring to it as the 4th.

  6. There are so many issues with this article and so much misinformation it’s difficult to know where to start.

    First and foremost, Zoe uses she/they pronouns and is a phenomenal athlete and advocate for our community here in Alaska. To share about her and completely misgender is abhorrent.

    Nonbinary is not “have not made up their minds that they are male or female.” There is so much variation in biology, even within the male and female categories that is not acknowledged (hello intersexuality and drastically varying testosterone and estrogen levels.)

    If you are going to pretend to know anything about this, I explore you to do some real research on the trans, intersex, and nonbinary communities.

    • ” To share about her and completely misgender is abhorrent.”
      Too bad.
      Seriously, is Zoe an adult? Or a child? Adults understand that the whole world does not exist to make sure their self esteem is never tarnished in any way. Children get upset if someone uses the wrong word to describe them.
      .
      If poor little Zoe suffers some trauma because a news article misgendered her… that is Zoe’s problem. i do not know Zoe, and her feelings are as meaningless to me as any other stranger’s. Unless you are a family member, close personal friend, or a coworker, I could care less about your feelings. Get over it, grow up.
      .
      Frankly, trying to crybully MRAK into conforming is the really abhorrent thing here.

    • “Pretend to know”. That’s funny considering the people who don’t know if they’re male or female are pretending to be something they’re not.

    • So-called “intersexuality” is just a misleading label to describe a male or female with genetic anomalies or mutations. There has never been a case of a person who could impregnate themself.

  7. I like it: The bottom line is that it protects REAL biological women from running against men who say they are women so that they can smoke all the real women. Sadly we Need the category in every sport now.

  8. I’m not sure this new category solves the issue of men competing as women. My understanding is that “trans women” identify as women, not “non-binary”. So it seems trans-women will still enter the women’s race. This is just the beginning.

  9. You can change your identity, even sexual orientation, by just going down the back side of Mt. Marathon. It worked for one.

  10. I fully support Zoe and the decision to add a nonbinary category to the Mount Marathon Race. This change is a significant step towards inclusivity and fairness, ensuring that all participants feel represented. Zoe’s involvement and expertise in gender studies can bring valuable insight and awareness to the race, making it a more welcoming event for everyone.

  11. I am so glad that Zoe and the others are able to race in a place that is building inclusivity! Zoe is an Incredible athlete and She is also a wonderful human being. You don’t have to understand us non-binary humans to treat us like fellow human beings- with respect, dignity, and acceptance.
    -From a Nonbinary human

    • I will certainly treat you with respect, dignity, and acceptance.
      Do the same for me. Stop demanding the world change to satisfy your wants. Stop demanding that I celebrate your life, as if I actually know you in any way.
      You do not allow anyone else to actually ignore you. Instead you demand recognition and praise from all. And, when you are treated the same way everyone else on the planet is treated, you throw a tantrum.
      .
      The opposite of discrimination is not inclusion, it is apathy. But, being treated as just another stranger is not good enough. No, you and your non-binary friends have to crybully everyone else into submission.
      .
      That is not treating me with respect, dignity, and acceptance. It is oppressing me.
      -From a heterosexual human

    • Hold on there NB, Zoe always had the opportunity to participate in the race. It was Zoe’s choice not to do so. The race is inclusive, always has been. The race is about testing your physical ability against the mountain.

      I wonder what would have happened if MM had decided to do away with categories altogether and instead implemented a lottery system for the waves of runners regardless of gender or age and let the chips fall where they may. Would Zoe still run? I wonder!

      IF Zoe wants to run MM in heels be my guest, but do it against competitors his own size and abilities. Anything else where is the dignity in that?

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