Nonbinary runner to NYC Marathon: Pay me

The founder of nonbinary run club (nbrc) & 2 Hot 4 Hoodies, Cal Calamia, is a queer trans poet, runner, high school health educator and inclusivity activist originally from the Chicagoland area and resides in San Francisco with their partner. (Photo Credit: Cal Calamia)

SAN FRANCISCO | All that Cal Calamia is asking for is what was promised: $5,000 in prize money for being the top nonbinary finisher in last fall’s New York City Marathon. According to Calamia, organizers claim they don’t have to pay them anything because they changed the rules for eligibility before the race, but after they registered.

Calamia, an avid runner and cross country coach for a high school in San Francisco, uses both they/them and he/him pronouns. They started a medical transition in 2019, taking testosterone. 

Last October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency informed Calamia via email that they granted him a therapeutic use exemption to compete in male, nonbinary and open categories at U.S.A. Track and Field-governed events, all of which take place in the United States.

As the Washington Post reported at that time, Calamia is believed to be the first runner granted an exemption to compete in the nonbinary category, changing the sport and scoring a victory for nonbinary and transgender athletes. Before this, gender-affirming hormone treatments traditionally resulted in a ban of those runners from the sport.

“This approval represents a turning point in conversations about trans athletes,” Calamia told the Post. “To have this approval means I’m allowed to be part of this conversation without being sidelined.”

So instead of watching from the sidelines, Calamia competed in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5, 2023, eager for the chance to follow in the footsteps of the first nonbinary category winner, Jake Caswell, who won in 2022 and as the Los Angeles Blade reported, was awarded $5,000.

“I was so excited to see this,” Calamia posted on Instagram. “I registered for the 2023 race for a chance to place in the top five and win some money for once! For reference, top men and women win $100,000.

The results page shows Calamia finished first in the nonbinary category, 457th overall, with a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, outpacing second-place finisher and 2022 nonbinary champion Caswell by more than six minutes. 

After winning, Calamia reached out to the race organizers, the New York Road Runners, about the $5,000 and heard nothing, they said.

“NYRR did not follow up about it, so I reached out and inquired about the prize money,”Calamia stated. “They responded that I am not eligible to win the money because I have not raced in 6 NYRR races in the last year. I had never heard of this and NYRR confirmed that they added this stipulation to the nonbinary prize money following my registration for the race.

“I asked that they honor the policy as it stood when I registered and they refused,” Calamia continued. “Put blanky, The New York City Marathon does not in fact award top nonbinary finishers because I won and they won’t pay me. Instead of just getting to enjoy winning like everyone else when they win, I just feel shattered.”

Calamia said they exchanged multiple emails with the NYRR and even had a Zoom call with them. “Unfortunately, they have considered this case closed,” said Calamia. 

See Calamia’s Instagram post talking about the situation below.

The Los Angeles Blade has reached out to the NYRR for comment and have not received a response as of press time.

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