Devon's first-ever women-only marathon to return in 2018

PUBLISHED: 06:55 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:15 07 November 2017

The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography.

The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography.

Monika Bajor Photography

The Women Can Marathon is all set for a re-run in 2018!

The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography. The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography.

Intended as a one-off event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a landmark in women’s running, the race set is to take place again next year – and this time, it’s gone global.

Women Can was the first women-only marathon ever to be staged in Devon, when it took place in May 2017. Some 400 women from across the UK signed up for the event, which took place at Tipton St John, with a course that included the Otter and Sid Valleys and a stretch of the South West Coast Path.

The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of American running pioneer Kathrine Switzer, who was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967.

Women Can has had an international benefit through proceeds donated from this year’s marathon, and it has receiving international interest for 2018.

The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography.The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography.

Organisers have decided to have a ‘re-run’, as a result of the enthusiasm and response to the event. The second Women Can Marathon and Relay will take place at Tipton on Sunday, May 27, 2018.

Race director Pauline Beare said: “We were overwhelmed by the support and interest in this special celebratory event, which enabled many women to run their first-ever marathon.

“We had such a positive response from the runners, the volunteers, and our fabulous business sponsors and partner organisations, that we decided we had to do it again in 2018. We are partnering again, as we did this year, with Kathrine Switzer’s organisation, 261 Fearless, and we expect a number of international entries through that link.

“We’re also delighted to have been able to make donations from this year’s run to the local village playing field organisation of £1,000 and £1,100 to the international charity Free to Run.”

The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography. The first Women Can Marathon, in 2017. Photo by Monika Bajor Photography.

The donation to Free to Run helped support the third annual marathon of Afghanistan, which took place on last Friday (October 27). A dozen women and girls finished the marathon, 11 of them Afghans. Twelve Afghan men also finished. Some 150 women and girls finished the 10km. Free to Run works in countries where women have little access to or are excluded from sport.

“It was so inspiring to see hundreds of women running in the very first Women Can marathon,” said Stephanie Case, the president and founder of Free to Run. “We were very honoured to be a 2017 charity partner. The funds raised from this race will help the women and girls in our Afghanistan programme to safely participate in outdoor sports, including a marathon in Afghanistan.

“We will channel the energy and positive spirit from the Women Can runners.”

David Boyle, treasurer of Tipton St John Playing Field Association, said: “We greatly appreciate how much hard work was involved to make it all happen and to bring immense enjoyment to so many runners, spectators and marshals alike. We look forward to supporting next year’s event.”

The Free to Run marathon in AfghanistanThe Free to Run marathon in Afghanistan

The 2018 Women Can event will be run on similar lines to this year, with more emphasis on relay runners, to enable wider participation and encourage more women to be part of the marathon experience.

The headline sponsor, Exeter-based IP Office, is again supporting the 2018 event. Company director Diane Collett said: “IP Office Ltd are delighted to be headline sponsor for a second year. The event has been inspirational for women in sport and we are looking forward to another successful year with Women Can.”

The 2018 event will continue as a non-profit enterprise with donations to named charities. The focus this time is on physical and mental health.

Visit www.womencan.co.uk for more information and to sign up to take part, or contact Women Can race director Pauline Beare on 07528 594714.

For details of Free to Run, go to www.freetorun.org and 261 Fearless www.261fearless.org

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