Research Background and Motives

在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 9-14)

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Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Research background and motives

“Have you run today?” seems to be the most popular greeting words between young

people recently. Brief statistics from “Runner’s Plaza”1 show that, compared with only

two marathons in 1993, the number of Taiwan road running events in 2014 reached a

record-high 448. The Taiwan Road Running Association Secretary-General Chen

Hua-Heng pointed out that the road running population had risen 100% within five years

and thought that it would constantly increase in the following five years (葉基 Yeh Ji,

2013). Running is the most convenient way to exercise compared with other forms of

exercise, as only a pair of running shoes and good body condition are needed.

According to the Taiwan Sports Administration (2014), 82.4% of the total population

had an exercise habit, and 25.7% chose running as a major sports practice, ranking

second behind walking (42.7%)2. The road running craze in Taiwan is shown by the

clear double- or even triple-digit growth in the number of road running events and

participants (賴香珊 Lai Hsiang-Shan, 陳妍霖 Chen Yen-Lin, 黃宏璣 Huang


1 Runner Plaza, a website offers Taiwan marathon-related information.

2 2014 Taiwan Sports Administration sports city investigation report. 年運動城市調查.pdf

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Chi, & 張家樂 Chang Jia-Le, 2015).

Road running has become a new economic facilitator, and recent road running

events have featured shorter distances compared with previous traditional marathons

and been oriented around diverse themes, becoming unique events. Road running

gradually formed up a formidable road running industry, which constructed another

consumer loyalty. Sports commercialization has been criticized as an undesirable

process, mainly controversial for depriving sports of their essence; thus, almost every

international sporting goods manufacturer now has its own women road running events

(such as Nike, Mizuno), reversing past male, basketball-oriented sports commodity

market strategies (古硯偉 Gu Yan-Wei, 2015).

Women used to be considered a subordinate, minor group in sports but have now

attracted the attention of multinational sporting goods manufacturers to jump onward

the bandwagon of holding female road running events and launched a series of women’s

sports products, including shoes, clothes, underwear, sweat pants, and so on, to appeal

more potential female customers. There were several possible reasons for this

phenomenon. First the men’s sports market was already saturated, so now they wanted

to target more female consumers. It has also been said that, because women have

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physical limitations compared with men, they deserve different genres of sports race.

Or it was due to social pressure and the promotion of particular ideology, women

suddenly became addicted to running. The answer was unclear. To my curiosity and

interest in the new era of road running development in Taiwan, I have the idea of the

current study, and also was inspired by my personal life history.

Running is one of my favorite sports. I love how running brings me an energetic

spirit and a healthy exercise routine, and most importantly, I enjoy accomplishing the

goal I set every time I run. It was not until 2013, when I had my first road running

experience, “Attack on Flour,” a crowd-funding fun run whose goal was to protest the

unjust registration system of “The Color Run,” that I noticed how popular road running

has become in Taiwan. However, my first road running experience was not what I

expected; there were fewer sports elements, and it was more like a secular carnival.

First, the location could not accommodate many runners at once. In the first two

kilometers, I felt like a tiny sardine, squeezed between other well-dressed sardines, and

there were no place to actually “run up.” Most of the time, I could only walk.

Furthermore, the powder areas were a mess and loud noise was common, but that is the

true meaning of “Attack on Flour”: mimicry of The Color Run, where, when runners

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pass by a certain spot, colorful powders are dropped down and attach to their T-shirt,

and the colorful T-shirts with sweat and powders are the best souvenirs. “Attack on

Flour” was beyond my imagination of what road running should be like. This was the

starting point where I began to gain more interest in observing road running in Taiwan.

Another phenomenon that caught my attention was the fact that my female friends

who used to avoid getting sweaty or hated exercising started to go to the gym and

attended all types of road running races. They shared their road running experiences on

social media and enjoyed wearing sportswear like never before. A women’s sports

movement seemed to emerge in Taiwan via road running, and the image of the “sporty

girl” and the value of a “good body shape” have been strengthened by the media, and

the rise of social media played an important role in it. I also noticed that, with high

registration fees, most popular road running events were held in the city, where many

agents cooperated or competed. From this point of view, road running seemed to be

more than just gender but a power struggle under the political, economic structure.

Therefore, whether road running in Taiwan was more than a costly form of physical

exercise, appealing to people of a certain status to join, is an interesting and worthwhile

topic to explore.

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Lately, resistance to the road running craze has emerged. In fact, road running

events have been accused of causing a great deal of inconvenience in Taipei. Event

organizers have been blamed for sacrificing citizens’ rights (occupying the roads and

wasting police resources to direct traffic) and often causing noise and environmental

pollution. The government and citizens seemed to gain nothing but provided free

advertising for the organizers (盧姮倩 Lu Heng-Chian, 2014; 陳正健 Chen

Cheng-Jian, 2014). At the end of 2014, Taipei city government announced a new regulation

for road running: “Taipei Road Race Events Audit Pilot Plan” (Taipei City Government,

2014). Road running events with more than 3,000 participants would be categorized

into three different sections: A (boulevard-lined route), B (great scenery and artistic

aura route), C (riverside park and family playground route) based on the running route

and number of participants. The frequency of road running events was restricted, race

organizers are required to file an application six months in advance, and only those that

pass an audit can hold events in the city of Taipei. This regulation went into effect in

2015; therefore, we could take this new regulation as the first countermeasure taken by

Taipei city government in response to the non-stop road running craze in Taipei.

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在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 9-14)