On Difficult Topics

When I get stuck on a topic, it’s a sign. Whether in writing or talking, the fits and starts are a tell. There’s something missing; there’s some half-baked idea I need to learn more about. It’s something I need to roll over in my mind, work on, and hash out on a trail run with a buddy or at least some trees.

More often than not, I get stuck in anger. I get frustrated, annoyed, and hot-tempered. On the topic of gender equality and inclusivity, for example, I often sputter and fume. This emotion, as my therapist would say, is often a response to a perceived threat. On the topic of gender, it feels simultaneously personal (through my experience as a woman in, say, the workplace) and universal (I believe in equal rights for all and get upset when I learn more about inequity and discrimination).

All of this is just another reason to dig in: To research, explore, and discuss the things that make people mad or squirm or sad. If we don’t figure out how to talk about difficult topics, we’re part of the problem and, at our worst, complicit.

Acknowledging this helps me, as a journalist, to put my thinking cap on. It helps me step back and take a look at what’s actually going on.

In my latest story for Trail Runner Magazine, I dug into the topic of gender equality. Reporting revealed that some races are making both simple and inventive changes with the goal of making the sport of trail running more inclusive and welcoming to a wider swath of people, including women.

Since the story was published, I’ve heard additional examples, such as the Mount Marathon race in Alaska, which has equal fields for men and women. I also heard about Aspire Adventure Running, an outfit that organizes running trips in the North Cascades and Northern California and that is offering a scholarship. What’s more, Trail Sisters has launched a race finder that highlights races that “abide by a set of standards set forth and developed by a team of women trail racers” with a special “Trail Sisters Approved” badge.

Please check out my story on Trail Runner Magazine: https://trailrunnermag.com/races/trail-races-continue-making-strides-toward-gender-equality.html. And let me know what you think, or even just what’s pissing you off!

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