Why Don’t Races Let Pregnant Women Defer?

Some races allow these types of deferrals—or deferrals for any reason—while others have stricter policies.

By: Dave McGillivray, for Runner's World

Meghan asks: Why don't all races allow pregnant women to defer? It's not an equal-opportunity affliction. Unlike the majority of illnesses or injuries, pregnancy can only sideline premenopausal women. A man could run a race with a child on the way or even days after his child was born. While some women can run/race while pregnant, some cannot (especially after a certain point), and most are sidelined for weeks or even months after giving birth.

Races differ in lots of ways, and every race establishes its own set of rules and policies. Rules usually address the competitive side of the event, while policies address the administrative side. Some races do have policies that allow pregnant women to defer, while others do not.

Organizers who do not offer deferrals to pregnant women may feel that pregnancy is a choice, and that women could simply choose to get pregnant after the race. (As to whether it is or isn’t a choice—I’m not going there.) These same races often do not allow deferrals for any reason—a policy I've explained previously.

Other races have a deferral policy that anyone can take advantage of no matter their circumstances. Some charge a fee for this courtesy and others don’t. Some will allow you to transfer your registration to another race organized by the same company within the year.

I wrote to a few fellow race directors and asked about their deferral policies. Here are some of the responses I received back:

“We do allow for deferrals and we do not charge any fees for doing so.”

“We do not offer deferrals under any circumstances.”

“We do have a deferral policy from one year to the next. There is a limited time to defer and it only applies to participants that are entered via the general drawing process, not those who get in via our Guaranteed Entry program (i.e., legacy, time qualifiers, tour group entry, and/or charity program). Anyone for any reason can defer if they are in the general drawing. However, if someone registered and was accepted through our Guaranteed program and was pregnant, I’m sure we would make an exception. This and other requests would be handled on a case-by-case basis.”

“We try to be fair to people. We allow deferrals for a $25 fee. They can defer as many times (years) as they want. We also listen if there is an extenuating circumstance—so if ‘Joe’ gets deployed, we press the ‘defer’ button at no charge. I am not naïve enough to believe people won’t make stuff up but I do believe 98 percent of the people tell the truth and God will get the other 2 percent.”

 

“We don’t advertise deferrals, but I grant a few every year. I always say YES to military requests. Ditto on pregnancies. (My little joke to women who are having trouble getting pregnant is sign up for our race. That usually works.) We do NOT require that deferred entrants repay the entry fee the following year but we charge a $10 deferral fee at the time we grant the deferral.”

So, as you can see, every race seems to have its own policies on deferrals, especially with regards to pregnancy. It is smart to always check with a race as to its policies before you even enter it. That way, no matter what happens, you won’t (or shouldn’t) be as disappointed if it doesn’t go your way.

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Dave McGillivray is president of DMSE, Inc., and has been Race Director at the Boston Marathon since 2001.