March 8, 2011 marks the centennial celebration of International Women’s Day, with 670 events already scheduled in 53 countries around the world. In Santiago, 2,500 Chilean women will celebrate two days early by running the country’s first ever Women’s Race, a Nike sponsored 5K that has been run for the last five years in Buenos Aires and Mexico City. This year, the race will be moved to Santiago, along with Asunción, Paraguay and Montevideo, Uruguay.
Proceeds from the race will go toward supporting the programs run by the National Service for Women (Sernam), and particularly toward incentivizing fitness programs.
In a report in La Tercera, the Deputy Director of the Women’s Service Cecilia Peréz highlighted obesity levels amongst women as a primary motivation for the run. “The index of obesity and sedentary lifestyles is 30.7 percent in the 25-64 age range,” Peréz says. Running, she adds, “is an accessible sport that you can do in any space in the city.”
Still, an increasing interest in exercise throughout Santiago is evident amongst women as well as men, demonstrated by sign-up rates for the city’s annual 10K race. In 2002, the first year of the 10K, quotas took over a month to fill. More recently, says Peréz, the quotas fill in a matter of days, with participation of women rising from 10 percent to 40 percent.
An important element of the 5K race is its total accessibility. While the 10K requires some preparation and training for participants, the 5K has a broader appeal, challenging enough for experienced runners, but short enough to attract women just beginning to enjoy the sport.
The route for the course will begin at 10am in front of the Vitacura Civic Center on eastern side of Santiago, and proceed through the entirety of the waterfront Bicentennial Park and along the neighborhood’s wide, tree-lined avenues.
During weekdays and evenings these fashionable thoroughfares are lined with high-end dining and shopping venues. For this Sunday morning they will instead be a testament to Santiago’s rapidly growing fitness culture.