Two of the four major world marathons, in London and Boston, added nonbinary categories for their races this month to recognize participants who don't identify as men or women. The move followed the New York City Marathon, which added the division in the 2021 event. Chicago added the category to this year's race in October.
The Twin Cities Marathon was ahead of all of them. Its organizer, Twin Cities in Motion, added a division for nonbinary runners in 2019, beginning with the marathon, TC 10-Mile, 10-kilometer race and 5K that make up marathon weekend.
"We are trying to be more inclusive, and this was the natural next step," said TCM Executive Director Virginia Brophy Achman.
The race operations are part of the equation, too, she said. TCM's registration partner had to build the new category into its platform for signups. Timing partners who needed to incorporate the category also were considered, she added.
Brophy Achman said more races will follow suit.
"When you go to the [national governing body] and the world governing body, that is a longer trajectory. It just takes more time," she said. "We are probably more adaptable. It is easier for us to adapt to those changes than the governing body and world-body level, it is going put pressure on them to deal with it sooner, to figure out what they are going to do."
Mary Anderson of Anderson Race Management, who organizes races for communities and organizations across the Midwest, said discussion of a nonbinary category came to the forefront of a national running conference in February.
Respectfully honoring nonbinary participants with their category and possibly other gender identities could be slower going for smaller races, she added. As TCM highlighted, there are routine racing logistics, among other matters, to take into account.
"It is going to take a little bit of time before it becomes traditional," Anderson said.