SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Nonbinary runners competing in the Bay to Breakers race on Sunday will now have the chance to win an award in their gender category as the event returns for the first time since the pandemic.
“I’m feeling so excited, I’m so excited, this is just a huge, huge deal,” said Cal Calamia, who will be competing as a nonbinary runner. He asked organizers to offer awards for his gender category after first learning in October they did not have any planned, even though he could register as nonbinary.
“While the large oversight had not been on our radar previously, we fully support and are happy to see the quick remedy the Bay to Breakers team made and committed to maintaining, in creating an awards category for nonbinary runners,” Zappos.com vice president and chief customer experience officer Stacey Wagner said in a statement. “It was Bay to Breakers’ celebration of the inclusive personality of San Francisco that aligned with our brand ethos and initially encouraged our sponsorship. We’re thankful to see them uphold these values and do right by them and the community.”
Zappos.com is the title sponsor of the race. The CEO of Capstone Event Group, which runs the event, told SF Gate the lack of awards in the nonbinary category was an oversight.
Calamia emailed organizers and started a campaign to get more people behind the effort to add awards for another gender category. The lifelong runner, Calamia started in fifth grade and continued to compete in high school and college. After moving to the Bay Area, he started running in marathons. This will be his first time running in Bay to Breakers.
“It makes a lot of sense, neither male or female accurately describe me so being able to choose nonbinary feels awesome,” Calamia explained.
His partner, Ariel Robbins, has watched him work hard not only to train for the event but to spread the word about the need to get the awards plan changed for this year’s race. She works with him throughout the year running a nonprofit that helps youth receive transgender-affirming care like chest binders.
“He’s just like, I’m going to practice this hill and do this and that and just working so, so hard,” Robbins said. “How is this happening in San Francisco in 2022, like hello? What’s going on?”
The weekend of the race, Calamia learned that there would be awards in his category, adding to the anticipation of competing on Sunday. Calamia said it only made sense for an event in San Francisco to mirror the inclusive spirit he’s seen as a resident. Until race organizers made the change, he felt it was isolating for nonbinary runners.
“I love living here in the Bay and one of the reasons why I love living here is so much is because we are at the forefront of so many social justice movements,” he said.
While Calamia considers nonbinary an umbrella term for those who feel they are beyond one gender, he also identifies as transmasculine. He explains that the term underlines the transition he made to masculine. He hopes the progress made with Bay to Breakers is just the start of a growing trend for more events to include more gender identities in their categories.
“They’ll see the way we’re doing things and they can use that as a model and that opens up a larger national — and eventually international — conversation about that the fact that nonbinary and trans people do exist. They do run.”
The experience highlights the ongoing need for more understanding locally and around the world.
“If you look at me, I’m a person, I’m a runner, I’m a teacher, I’m a poet, I’m so many other things besides my gender,” Calamia said.