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NYC Marathon refuses to give “devastated” first nonbinary winner their prize money

NYC Marathon refuses to give “devastated” first nonbinary winner their prize money
Cal Calamia, winner of the nonbinary division of the New York City Marathon Photo: Screenshot USA Today

The winner of the nonbinary division of the New York City Marathon last November has been denied the $5,000 prize money that accompanies the victory — over a technicality.

Cal Calamia, a 27-year-old Californian who identifies with he/they pronouns, won the 26.2 mile race with a time of 2:48:46.

The former collegiate track athlete came out as nonbinary and transmasculine in 2018 and has been on hormone replacement therapy since 2019. That fact put Calamia on the radar of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), who last summer warned the marathoner that he could run afoul of the agency’s ban on testosterone use among elite athletes.

He appealed for an exemption to the rule and was granted the right to run, just two days before the Chicago Marathon in October.

Calamia had previously been active in establishing a nonbinary division in that race, as well as in the San Francisco and Boston marathons.

But for all their activism around trans and nonbinary inclusion in sports, Calamia has hit a wall with the rules committee at the New York Road Runners Club (NYRR), the longtime administrator of the storied New York City race.

Six months before the event, the club instituted a new regulation stipulating that a runner eligible for prize money in the nonbinary group had to be a member of the NYRR for at least six months, and compete in several club-sponsored events. The same rule applies to professional and invited athletes.

“They added this stipulation to this division following the registration period. It was not there last year.” Calamia told the Runners By The Bay podcast last week. “They didn’t do any press release or any coverage on it. They didn’t communicate it out directly, and they are not going back on it.”

The New York City Marathon established a nonbinary division in 2021, joining Boston, Chicago, London, and Berlin in adding the category. Tokyo was the last among the Marathon Majors races to add the division, in 2023.

New York added cash prizes for the top five finishers in the group in 2022, the first Marathon Major to do so. New York City resident Jacob Caswell, 25, took home $5,000 that year with their first-place finish in a time of 2:45:12.

While Calamia is the undisputed winner of the division in 2023, his own first-place prize money remains out of reach.

Now the athlete-activist has taken to Instagram to publicize the denial, using the same tactics in his fight for trans and nonbinary rights.

“I’m devastated,” Calamia tells his followers, associating the prize denial with “being a trans athlete.”

Calamia used the same language last year, describing the threat of being banned from running by the USADA over a banned substance as “devastating,” as well.

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