Written by By Staff Writer
BARCELONA, Spain (CNN) — The Barcelona Marathon on Sunday was the latest stage of a significant event: the company of women runners. For the first time, the Spanish Athletic Federation — the sport’s governing body — has sanctioned an all-female team in running events.
It’s all because of Tatiana Calderon, the 37-year-old bank manager from Barcelona who has claimed top prize at three consecutive marathons.
Born to a poor family in Venezuela, Calderon’s life’s ambition was never to become an athlete. She achieved her dream after a fashion. In 2010, on a dare, she dressed up as a ninja and ran the world’s largest marathon, the 42-mile Boston Marathon.
“I’m not one of those who likes to run alone. I like being with others and that’s why I decided to run with a team.
“I want to encourage other women to overcome life’s obstacles. I also want to make my city a better place for women,” says Calderon, who is gearing up for this Sunday’s race, one of the world’s 10 most prestigious marathons.
Her running partner is Arlind Palampán, 26, a school teacher from Barcelona who also follows the samurai model. Palampán doesn’t actually follow the rules, though.
“I don’t even consider myself a runner,” says Palampán. “But I’m tired of having the feeling that it’s time to go home early. I’m an educator and I need more time with my students. So last year, in my teacher’s training, I decided to give marathon training a try. Now, I’m running in many organized events.”
Heinie Brunham, 30, is another team member, a consultant from London. On Monday, she wrote on Twitter that she was running the Old Course in St. Andrews, the famous golfing location near Glasgow.
“I’m doing it because I love long-distance running,” says Brunham. “It’s not only a sport. It’s also the other kind of training I need to accomplish in my job. And it means I don’t need to get away from a job that I love if I get injured.”
It’s not only in the world of running that more women are training with squads. Women are taking over track and field in the UK, to name just one country. Between 2011 and 2012, female sprinters — the fastest of which came from the UK — outnumbered men in the 100-meters in five of the eight competitions, where men and women ran at the same distance.
It’s not only in the world of running that more women are training with squads. Women are taking over track and field in the UK, to name just one country.
Young female runners like Brunham are taking over track and field in the UK, to name just one country.
Across the Atlantic, a generation of female athletes is having a similar effect on the sport. France is leading in outdoor track and field, winning 19 medals, including 17 gold, at the 2012 London Olympics, with a 98% female team. In Barcelona, almost half of the entrants on the women’s side are female.
“By following a team approach to running, we expect to get better as a team and we expect others to understand us better,” says Colin Allison, the 47-year-old director of a women’s track and field training center in Cambridge, England.
“In a vast majority of marathons today, there are still male-only teams on the starting line and yet fewer than 1% of teams are co-ed. It’s frustrating that these teams are able to do such good stuff in large marathons because there’s little participation from men.”