AM hosts react to international outrage over South Island Ultra Marathon race prize

AM hosts have weighed in on the international outrage a South Island ultra-marathon race has caused after event organisers offered a $10,000 prize.

John Moore's event company CJM’S​ Events, which he owns with his wife Carol, posted a prize offer of $10,000 for the first person to break the eight-hour mark in the 100km South Island Ultra Marathon race. 

But Event organisers were met with widespread criticism from around the world, with allegations of sexism and threats of a mass boycott. 

The international debate is about whether ultra-distance running is really a leveller between genders. Some people say the target overwhelmingly favours men who are more likely to meet the 8-hour target than women.  

Veteran Kiwi endurance athlete Fiona Hayvice told Stuff she was shocked at the organisers' surprise at the backlash. She said the $10,000 offer - one of the biggest purses for a running event in the southern hemisphere - "quite clearly" disadvantages women.

“Men are physiologically different to women. There is ample evidence of performance differences between men and women in distance running. If someone sets a non-gender specific target, then of course men are going to be more likely to achieve that target,” Hayvice told Stuff.

“The organisers are mistaking gender equality for gender equity.”

But organisers point to last year's overall winner, Japanese-born athlete Konoka Azumi, now based in Nelson. She took out the 2022 event setting a women's course record of 8 hours, 24 minutes and 3 seconds. The men's course record was set by Daniel Cox in 2021 with a time of 8:21:45. 

AM hosts weighed in on the debate on Monday, with Melissa Chan-Green questioning whether it's "sexist" while Ryan Bridge said it's "bizarre" organisers are facing criticism. 

But after widespread debate and criticism, organisers announced on the event's Facebook page that it would increase the prize offer to $20,000. 

This means the first male and female to break the 8-hour mark would receive $10,000 each. 

"South Island Ultra Marathon on 13 May 2023 has raised discriminatory concerns against female athletes being disadvantaged to achieve this time running against males, the post said. 

"CJM’S Events Ltd is not discriminatory against anyone whether it be age, race, sex, religion, or nationality. At all our events every prize is the same whether it is male, female, or age categorized."

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