EWL press coverage

Running as equals

This Sunday, a team of 75 runners (54 women, 21 men; aged 15 to 59) is taking part in the annual Brussels 20km, flying the flag for the European Women’s Lobby. As their motto explains (“Run for women’s rights – Be part of HERstory!”), their motivation is simple: to gain maximum exposure for the cause of gender equality.

But maybe some of them secretly wish to come first... among equals, naturally. We catch up with Brussels-born Parma resident Alejandra Ibarguen, 34, and Jan Imgrund, 37, from Germany.

What was your primary reason for joining this EWL team – was it the physical effort, was it the cause, or was it both?

Alejandra Ibarguen: I have already run the Brussels 20km on my own twice but the last time was in 2006… This year, I decided to do it again to make sure I took the time to do some sports for health reasons. However, the difference is that this year, for the first time, I decided to join a team. Not for the sake of running in a team but because I strongly believe that EWL should gain awareness. Indeed, I strongly believe that people should know they exist, be aware of what they do and contribute to their mission in their daily lives – as EWL’s cause is a universal cause. I have to admit that I didn’t know what feminists were ‘fighting for’ and how a feminist lobby could contribute to creating a ‘better world’. But since I heard about what EWL does, I gained more consciousness of the missions they are working on. This has made me aware of some behaviours that are part of our habits and that are even considered ‘normal’ or ‘good’ because we are made to think of them in that way, but if we actually take a step back to think about it, it shouldn’t be the case.

Jan Imgrund: I always wanted to run the 20km, just to see if I can make it over the finish line, and running for the feminist cause is even better. So it was both. A guy running in the women’s lobby team, I think that’s a nice symbol. A reverse quota, if you will.

Would you like this to be a recurring fixture?

JI: Ask me again after the run! But in principle, sure, it is certainly a good idea.

AI: In French, we say joindre l’utile à l’agréable (literally, ‘to combine the useful with the enjoyable’). This initiative could be joindre l’utile à l’utile… health and citizenship, by contributing to creating awareness of the inequities and discriminations that are still part of our society. To make changes, the first step is to become aware of the need to change, isn’t it?

What has your training routine been like, and did you have to make any sacrifices?

JI: I have tried to run one hour three times a week, and that has worked quite well so far, although I had to cut down at some point due to a slight injury. Other than cutting back on smoking, I didn’t really have to make any sacrifices, and I am not sure you could even call that a sacrifice.

AI: I started training ‘seriously’ in February. One year ago I couldn’t walk and I have been having physiotherapy for a year. The time had come to gain the whole muscle mass by working out so I started training for three hours a week. This way, I forced myself to include time for sport in my crazy schedule and I must say that even if sometimes I don’t manage to stick to my programme, at least it is now becoming part of a new positive habit. Nutrition has also changed. First of all, I drink more water and definitely make sure I don’t skip breakfast and lunch as I used to do very often because of my heavy work schedule. You don’t have to be a doctor or psychologist to say that, of course, I feel better, both physically and mentally – after a jog, the stress of the day really does disappear!

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