Inaugural East Devon marathon spreads message that Women Can

Jo Earlam, Pauline Beare and Peg Wiseman are behind the inaugral Women Can marathon

Jo Earlam, Pauline Beare and Peg Wiseman are behind the inaugral Women Can marathon - Credit: Archant

Race through Otter and Sid Valleys to raise awareness and inspire

Jo Earlam, Pauline Beare and Peg Wiseman are behind the inaugral Women Can marathon

Jo Earlam, Pauline Beare and Peg Wiseman are behind the inaugral Women Can marathon - Credit: Archant

The people behind East Devon’s first-ever full marathon have explained the positive message they hope to convey through making it a women-only event.

Plans for the 26.2-mile, off-road race through the Sid and Otter valleys were revealed in the Herald last month, when prolific runner Jo Earlam announced her intentions to do something special to mark the 50th anniversary of Tipton St John Playing Field.

A further twist revealed that it will be for female participants only and, with its official launch this week, organisers have explained where the idea behind the inaugural Women Can marathon came from.

Jo found out that 1967 marked a milestone year for women’s running when Kathrine Switzer defied rules and completed the full Boston Marathon – leading to female participants being officially allowed to enter by 1972.


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“It changed everything,” said the Sidmouth Running Club member.

“To discover that, within my lifetime, it was considered that women were incapable of running a marathon came as a complete shock.”

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Jo put her initial idea to Pauline Beare and Peg Wiseman, who together founded the Women’s Running Network - the trio are now organising the event.

The marathon also aims to raise awareness of the fact there is still some distance to go when it comes to women’s endurance running.

Race director Pauline said: “I see Women Can as part celebration and part reflection because, for a whole number of reasons, many of them cultural, we still have a situation globally where not all women can run marathons.”

Planning assistant Peg said: “The concept behind the marathon is very close to my heart, as someone who has gone from believing endurance running was something that was beyond me to where I am today. And I think that’s a story that a lot of women tell - the journey from no self-belief to self-confidence through running.”

The Women Can marathon will take place on May 28, 2017. As well as the full 26.2-mile marathon, there are also relays for two or four people and the event is open to Nordic walkers.

Runners can enter from Thursday, July 28, and the cost is £35 per person. Visit www.womencan.co.uk for further information.

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