This morning, I toed up toward the line of the 5k Resolution Run, leaving one row of runners between me and the start line. One row of male runners. As I judged whether I should press into the very front, I got some “don’t be getting in the way now” glances. Every runner knows this seeding game. At the 8k in Victoria, I played elbow leap frog with a guy sized and dressed like Rocky (who clearly won). As soon as the crowd opened, I never saw him again. This time, I stayed back… and as the gun went off, the pace didn’t, so I hopped into the grass and passed. 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd. 1st was a slender youth Japanese man in sleek kit. As I passed his head spun around at me in horror. This was not a guy to be chicked. Apparently my appearance caused some ferocious internal combustion type reaction. He took off effortlessly and instantaneously at a 5 minute-mile pace. To which I did not follow. No matter, the fear of woman was in his heart. He opened up the gap further and further. 100m, 200m, 400m. Every 50m, shoulder checking to make sure that I did not go with him. I couldn’t run that fast for 100m, forget 5,000m. As he got smaller and smaller in the distance, I could still see his now tiny head whip around from time to time. Was it something I said?
The Urban Dictionary defines “chicking” as “when a woman outperforms a man in a physical activity such as hiking, biking, or skiing, where a man should normally outperform a woman.” It’s common in running and cycling too. Pam Reed chicked every man in the prestigious Bad Water two years in a row (2002 & 2003). We running mamas all know the sweet silent mini-victory of the stroller-chick. I was once refused entry to a race with my stroller not for insurance issues, but to protect the fragile egos of men running for their PBs. The race director worried: How is one to feel about hitting their goal time – but being passed by a stroller, being pushed by a lady, in a skort? Oh the horror. At the end of one of my better races (with my daughter in tow), the man behind me exclaimed at the finish, “I just got beat. By a lady. Who just had a baby. Who was pushing that baby in a stroller.” He seemed genuinely as happy about my stroller-chicking as I did, even though he got chicked.
We know we shouldn’t be so competitive. But… It’s only really chicking if it bugs the guy you’re passing. Otherwise, it’s just a pass. And if it bugs him… Well… Maybe that’s the game?
What do you think? Is chicking an offensive term that perpetuates inequality in sport? Or a little harmless fun between genders competing on the same level? Do you even notice when you pass a guy in a race or when a woman passes you? How about if it’s your spouse?