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Runners can identify as nonbinary in the Boston and London marathons

Runners near the finish line during the 126th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2022.
Omar Rawlings
Getty Images
Runners near the finish line during the 126th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2022.

Updated April 17, 2023 at 5:27 AM ET

Two of the world's top marathons will allow runners to identify as nonbinary when they enter the races this year.

Organizers for the 2023 Boston Marathon and the 2023 TCS London Marathon say that racers will have the option to enter the race as male, female or nonbinary – a term used by some people who say they don't fit into the gender categories of man or woman.

There's been a push for greater gender inclusion in sports across the globe, and some athletics organizations have recently announced policies on how transgender, nonbinary and other gender-nonconforming people can take part in competitions.

Boston and London join other marathons that have already added the nonbinary gender option, such as the New York Marathon.

"A truly inclusive marathon provides space for every runner to register, compete and be celebrated exactly as they are," said Joanna Hoffman, spokesperson for Athlete Ally, a group that advocates for LGBTQI+ equality in sports.

"Including a nonbinary category in the Boston and London Marathons, following the New York Marathon's prior adoption, is a critical step forward. No runner should be forced to participate in a category that does not match their identity," Hoffman added.

Nonbinary runners can race in Boston, but they won't get prize money

In an announcement on its website, the Boston Athletic Association said qualifying nonbinary runners could submit an entry application for this year's race.

The group will use women's qualifying times for nonbinary applicants, because it says it doesn't have enough data to set qualifying times specifically for nonbinary runners.

Spokesperson Chris Lotsbom said in a follow-up email to NPR that nonbinary runners won't be eligible for any prize money at the April 17 race, because runners who compete in the professional divisions have to select either a male or female gender in accordance with national and international rules.

"Non-binary athletes who may be eligible for invitational entry into the professional fields would need to designate their gender based on World Athletics, USA Track & Field, or World Para Athletics rules prior to competing for prize money," he said.

Lotsbom said the association offered a nonbinary gender option during its Virtual 125th Boston Marathon last year and had 56 entrants and 42 finishers who identified as nonbinary.

The London Marathon is working to become "truly inclusive"

The London Marathon will offer the three gender options to racers entering the mass participation element of the competition, but there will be no nonbinary gender choice in the elite athlete races and the Championship and Good For Age categories.

"This is a significant step forward for the TCS London Marathon as we continue our journey to make our event truly inclusive," event director Hugh Brasher said in a statement.

"We know there is still much more to be done, but changes such as this demonstrate our commitment to making the TCS London Marathon an event that is for everyone," Brasher added.

The race is scheduled for April 23.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.