Although Hutterite women are known for wearing modest blouses and ankle-length skirts, when one woman participated in an athletic event last week in Winnipeg while dressed in her traditional clothing, people apparently noticed.
According to the Winnipeg Sun on June 20, an 18-year old Hutterite woman from the Crystal Spring colony near Ste. Agathe, Manitoba, participated in a half-marathon race, the Manitoba Marathon, 13.1 miles of running. With high humidity and the temperature at 24 degrees centigrade (75 degrees Fahrenheit)—warm enough in Canadian terms for the newspaper to comment upon it—Lynda Waldner ran in her traditional clothing anyway.
Asked about it, she told the reporter that “I don’t believe I was any warmer than the other people, because that’s what I’m used to.” She added, “I don’t know anything else. That’s what we wear.” The reporter was evidently bothered by the heat, to judge by his line, “Not surprisingly, people were taken aback to see Waldner running a half-marathon in sweltering conditions in yesterday’s race.”
Ms. Waldner indicated she had heard a variety of comments regarding her participation in the race: “A lot of people made comments… ‘Nice skirt, way to go,’ or ‘Have you got a fan underneath there?’” The reporter indicated she appeared to be in better condition than many of the other participants. This was the first time she had participated in a marathon run, and she indicated she didn’t expect to win. But she did better than she had anticipated, finishing the course in two and three-quarter hours.
The article mentions that four other Hutterites from the same colony also participated in the marathon. According to Bennett (1967), the Hutterites in general devalue competition (although it certainly exists among the managers of the different colony enterprises). In this light, it is interesting that at least five people from one colony participated in a sport such as long-distance running that focuses primarily on the individual accomplishment of finishing the course for the sake of the achievement rather than on the competitive value of winning the race.