Every year, the TCS New York City Marathon brings in about 50,000 runners from around the globe. But you don’t have to be a runner to appreciate the high emotions of the day or the history being made. On Sunday, Nov. 6, a new record will be broken: for the first time ever, lactation stations will be added along the course, giving nursing parents the privacy and support they deserve.
New York Road Runners (NYRR), the group that organizes the marathon, partnered with nonprofit &Mother to make it happen. &Mother was cofounded by Olympic middle-distance runner Alysia Montaño (author of the viral New York Times op-ed “Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby”) and is dedicated to supporting athletes who want to pursue both career and motherhood.
Montaño is running the NYC Marathon this year and shared the success on her Instagram in the week leading up to the race. “We have been hard at work to create equitable spaces in sports that will ultimately lay the ground works for equitable spaces for industries across the board for caregivers and lactating people,” she wrote in the caption.
Marathon runners are typically on the course anywhere between two to six hours, and stopping to breastfeed requires some additional planning — especially if you have to think about how and where you’re going to pump. For more than a decade, NYRR has transported nursing pumps from the starting line to the finish line for runners who needed them, according to a news release from the organization. This year, NYRR will offer that service as well as five new lactation stations that will be implemented along the NYC Marathon course: at the start; at miles 8, 16, and 22; and near the finish line. It’ll also provide breast pumps and sets of individually wrapped, sanitized accessories since runners often don’t carry anything with them throughout the race.
NYRR has focused its recent efforts on supporting underrepresented runners in addition to breastfeeding athletes. Last year, the group introduced a nonbinary category, followed by the Boston Marathon this year — and will be one of the first World Marathon Majors awarding prize money to the winner.
While there is a lot more work to be done about creating equity in sports, this is certainly a win for the running community.