Tranathon, The Race To Combat Transphobia.

Submission from Caelyn O’Reilly via Tranathon

We are Tranathon, a group of trans people attempting to increase representation and
combat transphobia in public running events (such as Marathons and Parkruns).

One of the key ways the anti-trans movement has been able to gain a foothold in the
mainstream is by focusing on trans presence in sport and physical activity: podiums, pools
and – yes – marathons. Through this they foment society-wide fear of trans people’s bodies,
our physicality. Many trans people who have participated in sports, marathons and parkruns
have been publicly harassed, both locally and even in national news outlets, their bodies
being made into objects of leering speculation, degradation and sexual objectification.

Our goal is to counter this by promoting and celebrating trans presence in public running
events. Trans people should have the freedom to participate without the fear that
transphobes have pushed onto this space.

But the hostility to trans runners isn’t just about running on its own. It, and other
manifestations of transphobia, are a giant neon sign blaring “STAY AWAY! HIDE! DO NOT
resounding “Fuck that!”.

With that said, four of our runners have decided to share our experiences at the Brighton
Marathon on Sunday April 7th:

Medusa – “Brighton Marathon was my third marathon in as many years. I started my training
with the goal of running the course in around 3:45, hoping for an incremental improvement
over my previous result.

Unfortunately, a recurring achilles tendonitis meant I missed large chunks of my training
plan. In the immediate lead up to the race I was forced to adjust my goal to, “let’s see how
far round the course I can get”.

I was therefore delighted to find my injury held up on the day and I managed to complete the
marathon. Albeit having to run, walk (mainly walk) as my reduced fitness hit me in the final
seven miles. I finished around half an hour over my original goal time.

I’m also happy there’s a tangible trans running community coming together and it was a
pleasure to meet and run in the company of some of them.

Tranathon is low pressure and supportive space for any trans person at any level of running.
There’s a level of understanding around the pressures of what it means to be a trans runner,
especially when athletics organisations are doing their best to create an actively hostile
environment for us.

I’ve made good friends in the group, and I genuinely think without its encouragement I
wouldn’t have turned up on the day, never mind made it round. I’m incredibly proud of
everyone who gutted it out the day.”

Natalie – Trans people are hugely under-represented in sport & physical activity, although
you wouldn’t think so given how we’re portrayed. Trans women, in particular, are regularly
publicly monstered even for participating in fun runs, so I entered my first 26.2 miler as much
to prove we have the right to be there as anything else. It turns out running a marathon is
fairly difficult, but I was really pleased with a time under 4hrs 45, and delighted to have been
part of a wonderful group. Going out for a run is a joy, and one nobody can take from us.”

Anonymous: “For me, running a marathon was a big fuck you to UK Athletics and the
nominally queer running groups who refuse to have a fight about this. I’d never gone further
than 5k before last April, and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved, having finished in a little
under five hours.

I also feel really proud to know and be a part of the small community of trans runners that
has helped me get to this point. I will be continuing my running, and I hope one day that I will
be able to do so under less deliberately oppressive conditions. Fuck Seb Coe and all who
sail in her.”

Caelyn – “Hi again, author here.

I hadn’t run recreationally since I was a kid until I found Tranathon. Having this space
motivated me to rediscover the joy of running. With that motivation I was able to participate
in the 2023 Cardiff Half-Marathon raising money for The Rescue Hotel.

I was deeply nervous as the Brighton Marathon approached and I felt less and less ready for
it. But I knew no matter what my friends would push me through. I had no idea how right that
would end up being.

I started well enough, the course passed by many beautiful locales. But I hit a hard wall
about 12 miles in. While this is where things got physically much harder, this is also when I
began to experience the true camaraderie of these events.

I would especially like to thank the St. John’s Ambulance crew who saw me at this point.
They stabbed my finger and gave me a croissant (10/10, would visit again).

From that point I walked – or more accurately hobbled – the rest of the way, determined to
finish, to prove to myself I could do this.

People walking by constantly cheered me on, people working with the event made sure to
check in on me. It was emotionally reinvigorating in a time I was physically spent, with half a
marathon still to go. One of my Tranathon friends kept me company for a portion of the
remainder and I couldn’t be more thankful. But even with that I was completely fried with just
two miles to go. That’s when another friend came to the rescue with kindness, compassion,
and an extremely convenient wheelchair.

Look, some people think participating in an event like this while being trans is inherently
cheating so I refuse to have any guilt about this. After two miles of pushing along the
gorgeous Brighton seafront, I stood and awkwardly waddled to the finish in a blistering 8

hours, 34 minutes and 18 seconds. To put this time in the only true measurement system,
“The Lord of the Rings” extended trilogy, I finished about a third of the way into “The Return
of the King” (just before Elrond gifts the reforged sword Andúril to Aragorn).

I am proudly the 4th last person (and second last woman) to finish the 2024 Brighton
Marathon, because the key word there is “finish”. One of the smaller harms that the
transphobic approach to sport does is encourage a toxic hyper-competitiveness. According
to them, whether a cis person finishes 10th or 10,000th, if a trans person finishes in front of
them then they have been robbed of a place. They portray these events as a constant
competition with the person in front of you. They dismiss the cooperative aspects of running
events, the sense of community, the joy of just finishing. I hope increased trans presence
can remind people of these aspects.”

We will continue to run, to be present in these events, in marathons and parkruns around the
country. Because we will not accept the bullying and harassment trans people are
bombarded with in our society. We will be seen. We will be public. We will run.

You can find their socials here: