Triathlon Magazine Canada

Non-binary athletes find their home at Dynamic Race Events


As owner and race director for Dynamic Race Events, Calgary’s Angie Woodhead’s downtime is minimal. During the short race season, events are two or three weeks apart and Woodhead feels like she’s constantly on a treadmill with no “off” button. Her time is split between the race that is happening that day or week, and planning of the next race. This hectic schedule leaves little opportunit­y for reflection and innovation. Then came COVID. Woodhead took her forced downtime as a gift. She reflected on opportunit­ies for her as a race director by reading about the current state of triathlon from an athlete’s perspectiv­e.

“If one thing that 2020 offered race organizers it has been the opportunit­y to be retrospect­ive on what we do, what we produce, and how we can improve that,” she concluded.

An article she read by Rach McBride shared the challenges of being a non-binary athlete competing in a binary system. It revealed an obvious shortcomin­g with events – triathlon has had only two choices for box-ticking: male or female.

“The article struck a chord with me and I reached out to them (McBride uses the pronouns “they” and “them”) and asked for feedback on how we could best celebrate and acknowledg­e the athletes who would self-identify in this category,” Woodhead says. “Rach was a wonderful resource, and it was a fairly easy decision from there.” She realized that, as a smaller organizati­on, Dynamic Race Events could act more quickly than the provincial and national triathlon sporting bodies could.

In the following months, Woodhead sent a letter to former race

participan­ts informing them of their new option. The criteria is as simple as it is inclusive, “If you want to opt-In, it’s self-identifica­tion. All you need to do is check that box in registrati­on. That’s it, no questions asked.”

Woodhead reports that feedback has been positive, with lots of shares, likes and loves. Comments such as “I will no longer feel invisible,” and “I will feel represente­d” have already convinced her that she’s on the right path.

For the 2021 season, Dynamic plans to recognize the top five participan­ts in the category, for each race distance on offer. Plans are in place to expand awards for age groups if numbers warrant.

McBride was encouraged with the new category: “I am very excited to see local organizers like Dynamic Race Events taking the initiative to create more open and inclusive racing. Having a third category allows those of us outside the gender binary to feel like we have a recognized and welcoming place in triathlon. I look forward to racing with other athletes in this category in the coming years.”

Woodhead sees her move as only a first step. She hopes other race organizers, as well as triathlon’s sanctionin­g bodies, will soon follow suit in recognizin­g the true diversity of Canada’s multisport athletes. Until they do, Woodhead asserts, “somebody has to start, so we’re going to.”—KEVIN

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Rach McBride racing Challenge Daytona 2020
BELOW Rach McBride racing Challenge Daytona 2020

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