Dublin Marathon introduces new category for non-binary runners

Move follows consultation with members of the running community and hopes to allow runners compete ‘in a category that matches their identity’

The Irish Life Dublin Marathon has agreed to introduce a new category to allow runners to enter as nonbinary, as well as either male or female.

There will be a window provided in August to allow all participants to change their entry to the nonbinary category, should they wish to do so.

This follows consultation with members of the running community, and which according to the Dublin Marathon organisers, “will make a positive impact and will allow for runners to participate in a category that matches their identity”.

Set for Sunday, October 29th, this year’s race will also have a reduced capacity compared to last year, the 25,000 entry limit reduced to 22,500 for 2023, mainly due to infrastructure restrictions around the course.


Several big city marathons, including New York, London, Boston and Chicago, already allow runners to identify as nonbinary at the entry stage. This gives runners the option to enter as male, female or nonbinary, the term used by people who say they don’t fit into the gender categories of man or woman.

Long-serving Dublin Marathon race director Jim Aughney said the nonbinary category will have its own separate prize fund too, although at this stage the likely numbers are unclear.

“We don’t know, as yet, how many will avail of this new category,” said Aughney, “and it won’t be available until August of this year because we’re waiting for the refunds and the transfer window to finish. Then we’ll open up the database again to declare as non-binary.

“During our discussions with the clubs, particularly Dublin Frontrunners, a number of people said they hadn’t run the event in the past because non-binary wasn’t included. They said they would be delighted to run it in the event of a non-binary category being included.

“When we got that feedback from runners it was something we needed to add. We will [in future] have a category prize for it and they will be listed in the results [M, F and X]. During the discussions we said we’ll see how many and what the time profile is for those [non-binary who finish] as to whether we can actually do a tape finish for them or not.

“And we’ll sit down and consult with them when we get entries in with a view to improving on it year on year as the category grows.”

While all 22,500 entries are sold out, runners who have not yet been offered a place through the lottery system may benefit from the refund window as additional places may become available. The refund will be available in the first two weeks of June. A new transfer system will also open to runners for July, allowing existing entrants to transfer their place to another runner.

Aughney explained the reasons behind the reduced race capacity for 2023: “We had a field of 25,000, for 2022, but when we ran the event, looked at the numbers and how things worked out, we’ve reduced that entry to 22,500, for 2023.

“One of the big reasons for that is the infrastructure that’s on the streets, not just around the start and finish, where we actually went in and removed them, but out on the route, a great example is Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park, where you have bollards left and right of you.

“So, with all of that, and the critical through points of runners around the route, we’ve reduced it to 22,500 for 2023.

“We’re looking to see are there initiatives we can add to the event, to try get a little more capacity into Merrion Square, that’s where the real pinch point is. The peak is 194 per minute, coming across the finish line, you have to service those with medals, goody bags, t-shirts, then get them into the baggage area, then get them out.

“So that’s the challenge for us, to get people out of Merrion Square, the footprint we have is very, very limited. We’ll crunch the numbers again after 2023 and see are there ways to increase the numbers again, the footprint, or reduce some of the services to try to get more people in, but at the moment we’re looking at 22,500. We may be able to get that back up slightly, next year, but we’re very, very close to that maximum.”

It was also announced that John Treacy has been chosen as the official race starter, to mark the 30th anniversary of his win in the 1993 Dublin Marathon. The Olympic Silver medallist and Irish marathon record holder ran 2:14.40 on the day to claim victory.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics