Logo reads Threshold trail series, white text on black background
Credit: Threshold Trail Series

Entries are open for next summer’s Threshold Trail Series, which features two of the largest, most prestigious, and best-known ultra trail races in the UK; Race to the King and Race to The Stones. More than 4,500 athletes will take part and Threshold Sports has set an ambition to achieve at least 50% female participation in 2024, and beyond.

Since 2013, the Threshold Trail Series has consistently welcomed a higher proportion of women than the industry standard. However, female participation across all running distances has declined by 10% since the COVID pandemic,* and just one third of UK ultrarunners are currently female.

Threshold Sports aspires to reverse this trend and tackle the challenges to female participation in ultra-distance events through initiatives around health, safety, preparation and representation.

Threshold Sports’ new initiative – Ultra 50:50 – endeavours to achieve gender parity and set new industry standards to inspire, empower and enable women to take part in events at the toughest end of the running distance spectrum. The Ultra 50:50 mission sees Threshold Sports partner with SheRACES, grass roots running groups, female runners, as well as those not already in the running community, to understand the challenges that prevent women from taking part and address them.

Threshold Sports, hopes that by raising awareness of the challenges women face and showcasing the changes they have made to their events, they can provide a commercially sustainable blueprint for other event organisers that share this mission.

Following research and consultation with industry experts, the first phase of the campaign has identified five key areas of challenge for women:

  1. Female representation and perceptions
  2. Training and preparation
  3. Access and support at the event
  4. Safety and harassment
  5. Menstrual health and the menopause.

Over the coming months Threshold Sports will undertake a series of initiatives to address these challenges ahead of next summer’s events. A series of pop-up running events in the lead up to the summer will continue to delve into the challenges to participation and enhancements on the events next year will support female participants on the next – or first – step on their running journey.

Sophie Power, SheRACES Founder, said: “Women face many barriers to being on the start line. Some are societal, but some are put in place – often unknowingly – by races themselves. SheRACES conducted in-depth research on women’s experiences in racing and used this insight to develop the first set of guidelines for race organisers. Helping them understand how to get more women on the start line, give us a better experience when we race and equally value our competition. These were adopted by Threshold last year and we are delighted that it has now launched the 50:50 campaign to further its commitment to equality.

Nick Tuppen, CEO at Threshold Sports commented: “Our ambition is to achieve gender parity at the Trail Series, but it shouldn’t stop there. We have an incredible team of experts working with us, and what we learn and implement during this campaign could help to raise standards across the industry so that women are offered equal opportunities to fulfil their running potential.”

Race to the King takes place on 15 June along Monarch’s Way, through the South Downs National Park to the ancient coastal village of Bosham, and on past the magnificent Arundel Castle in West Sussex. Race to the Stones is set for 13-14 July. 3,000 people will take on the UK’s oldest trail covering 50km or 100km to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire.