Runner with stoma withdraws from New York Marathon over bag ‘security concerns’

Gayle Redman said it was “disappointing” and “disheartening” that rules prevented her taking part in the iconic race

Maira Butt
Sunday 05 November 2023 18:23 GMT
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New York City Marathon preview

A woman was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s New York Marathon over “security concerns” over a vest carrying supplies for her stoma.

Gayle Redman, aged 47, from Flintshire in Wales, needs hydration, nutrition and medical supplies to maintain her health and safety while running following endemetriosis injuries.

But the GP toldThe Independent she was forced to cancel the trip due to concerns over her stoma supplies and medical equipment failed to be resolved by the New York Marathon team.

Moment every winner of the 2023 New York City Marathon crossed the finish line

The run, which operates on a ballot system was drawn in March this year, at which point Mrs Redman began to make preparations for reasonable adjustments to accomodate her stoma supplies.

“I contacted them immediately,” she said. “First I was told there were no exceptions to the rule against run belts. Then I contacted the CEO and was put in touch with the inclusion team.”

But despite making clear what she needed to run with, she was sent only a clear backpack which could include a water bladder but no medical supplies.

“I can’t run without my medical supplies,” said Mrs Redman. “I can’t run without appropriate hydration. I can’t decide between the two which one I’m going to sacrifice.”

Mrs Redman’s husband, Tim, also had to withdraw as a result of the issue, as he suffers from functional neurological disorder which causes seizures and can be linked to mental health.

“I’m his support runner to make sure he doesn’t have a seizure and if he does that the seizure is managed and I can look after him,” she said. “He can get anxious in crowded places.”

Mr Redman said in a Facebook post on Sunday: “Today marks what would have been our New York City Marathon race day, and while we aren’t there hitting those iconic streets, I couldn’t be prouder of Gayle. Her courage to share her story has shone a light on the often overlooked issue of hidden disability discrimination.

Mr and Mrs Redman had to withdraw from the New York Marathon after bag rules meant Gayle couldn’t be accommodated in time

“It’s a bittersweet moment, but our journey doesn’t pause. We’re lacing up for a 20-mile run today, turning our disappointment into determination. Every mile we cover is a testament to resilience and the power of raising awareness.

“We may not be crossing the NYC finish line, but we’re running towards a future where inclusivity isn’t just a word, but the standard.”

Back in 2018, the couple ran twelve half marathons in twelve months for Mind after Mr Redman approached his 40th birthday and suggested they take up running.

“At the moment we’re running races for our own enjoyment and do charity races when the opportunity arises,” said Mrs Redman.

New York Marathon said in a statement to The Independent: “We work with intention to provide reasonable accommodations in accordance with local laws and federal guidelines to ensure runners of all abilities have access to our races while making sure that each and every runner, spectator, volunteer and staff member are safe.”

Gayle took part in the London Marathon last year and said while she understands “security concerns” more conversations needed to be had.

It said it went “above and beyond to provide this runner with options including purchasing two hydration packs for her, in addition to our 20 course-based hydration stations”.

“It is unfortunate that her requests didn’t align with local law enforcement restrictions and that she has chosen not to join us this year,” the organisers said, pointing to hydration vests being on a prohibited items list.

Mrs Redman said in response: “I get the issue here is about safety and security, I fully appreciate that and would appreciate knowing what the rules and reasons are. If I pose a threat as a runner with an eight litre run vest, how are they protecting me from all the other people along the route?

“There are tens of thousands of them with rucksacks and backpacks and shopping bags. This is a very disappointing situation and more conversations need to be had.”

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