According to the research at Outdoor Industry, the likely representative of one who describes themselves as an outdoor recreation enthusiast would be a caucasian male, with at least some college education, making more than $75,000 a year, and married or living with a significant other. Recently I noticed a one paragraph blurb in one of those fitness magazines geared toward women that pointed out female participation in Tough Mudder races in particular and in adventure sports in general is on the rise. Is this true? Are more women willing to take their workouts outside? Are others falling in line with my motto of “If you aren’t muddy, bloody and sweaty when you’re done, you probably didn’t do it right.”?
In the years following Title IX in 1972, team sports for girls still lagged behind the participation level for boy’s team sports but it did make more opportunities available for girls than ever before. I don’t think there is much argument that girl’s sports, especially team sports, have enjoyed increasing social acceptance. It is no longer considered unladylike to wear shorts and athletic shoes, to wield a hockey stick, tennis racquet or softball bat, or to break a sweat. There is chatter on blogs like this and websites like bike hugger about increasing awareness and participation not just in cycling, but in events like adventure racing and workouts like crossfit, that have been dominated by testosterone rushes. Wondering if this is indeed true in our neck of the woods, I tried to check out statistics by looking for an increase in females registering for local events like the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series and Raid the Rock Adventure Race over the past few years. What I learned was that there are a lot more women participating in adventure sports. But there are a lot more PEOPLE participating in those types of events. Is the increase of female participation statistically significant in the total increase? I don’t know because I hate math. But if you hang out with cool folks like the ones I know…the consensus is that girls are ready to get dirty. In the mud, under the barbed wire, across the fields, over the rocks, through the brambles…pedaling, running, climbing and soaring. Watch out boys, here they come. They’re likely to be right on your tail. Or just as likely, to be in front of you. Catch up.