It may seem like just a checkbox on an application form, but for runners such as Calla Hummel, Isadoro Saturno and Diego Tomasino, seeing “non-binary” as an option in the Life Time Miami Marathon and Half meant so much more.
“It’s important for me that I’m able to register under my gender identity,” said Hummel, a 34-year-old political science professor at the University of Miami. “There’s a lot of things in my life where I need to register, and the options are male or female. I do it every day, and it’s annoying and frustrating.
“So, it’s nice when I have an option that actually matches my gender identity so when I’m publicly assigned to a group, as you are in sporting events, I’m assigned to a group I actually identify with. … It’s a relief to have a recognized option that describes my experience after 30 years of trying to shoehorn myself into female, which never felt adequate or comfortable.”
This year, for the first time, the Miami Marathon created a full awards category for runners who identify as non-binary, following a worldwide trend in the distance running industry toward greater gender inclusion.
Fourteen non-binary runners, a term used by some people who say they don’t fit into the gender categories of man or woman, will be among the 18,000 runners taking over the streets of downtown Miami, Miami Beach and Coconut Grove on Sunday.
Last year, only the non-binary winner in the Full and Half Marathon races were recognized. This year, the top three non-binary finishers in each race will receive awards.
That is welcome news to 35-year-old Diego Tomasino, a native of Argentina who lived nine years in Panama, moved to Miami in 2019, and runs a consulting firm promoting diversity and inclusion in corporations in Latin America.
“We have a long way to go, especially where I came from,” said Tomasino, who will be running his third Miami Half Marathon. “I’ve been working in Central America for many years, and it’s a completely different scene compared to the U.S. or Europe. It is my passion to educate people about sexuality and gender identities. Gender is a social construct, roles are very fixed, and breaking stereotypes is part of moving forward in society.”
Tomasino has been doing a lot of self-reflection of late, and said it felt good to click “non-binary” on his race application.
“It’s important to have this category for the rest of the people to see, ‘We’re here, we exist and there’s a full community of non-binary people, queer and trans people who are not in the spotlight and love to run,’ ” he said.
Hummel, 34, and Saturno, 35, are partners who have been training and running together in South Florida for the past five years.
Saturno said athletes in the LGBTQ+ community often face discrimination and allowing them to enter competitions under their desired gender identity is a step in the right direction.
“The sports debate is so heated up around gender categories, and I understand that people have all this passion about sports and have grown up with sense of how sports should be, but things are changing,” Saturno said. “We as a society are changing and more individuals should have access to define themselves as they want. I am proud of these changes and hope they will keep growing.”
The Miami Marathon is aligning with other major running events in the United States that also allow runners to enter and receive awards as male, female or non-binary this year. The New York Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Philadelphia Distance Run and more than 200 other races now include a non-binary division.
“This is a significant step forward for The Life Time Miami Marathon and Half because we are putting an exclamation point on our commitment to total inclusivity,” said Nicole Bostick, the Miami Marathon director of marketing.
“A running event is for everyone. We are always looking for ways to improve our programs so that our start line reflects the diversity of society, including runners of all ages, abilities, cultures and beyond. We attract runners from all over the world and it is important that everyone feels at home when they come to run Miami.”
Hummel started running in 2011 as a way to reduce stress while working on a PhD at the University of Texas in Austin and kept up the hobby after moving to Miami in 2017 to take the job at UM. Hummel’s first marathon was in Seattle in 2019 and the next big event was the Everglades Ultras race in 2020.
Saturno, 35, moved to Miami from Venezuela in 2017, works as a marketing manager for UPS, and is also a writer. He picked up running after he met Hummel, ran his first 5K in 2019, did the Disney Half Marathon in 2021 and the TriKB triathlon on Key Biscayne in September 2022.
“I like running because after running you can eat whatever you want,” Saturno said, laughing. “That’s my biggest motivation. I had done some sports before for fun, but never with this level of discipline.”
The movement to add non-binary categories for runners began with Jake Fedorowski, a runner who released a 24-page Guide to non-binary Inclusion in Running last summer. The guide outlines how race directors can make their events more inclusive and is available for free at nonbinaryrunning.com