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Who wants to walk a mile in a man’s shoes when you can watch brave women race in their sky-high stilettos instead?

Over the past five years, stiletto runs, also known as hoge hakken races (high heel races), have become one of the most popular charity events in the Netherlands, pitting ladies against each other for the chance to win prizes and support various women’s health and rights issues. The races can be anywhere from 45m to 200m in length, usually through a blocked-off road in the middle of a city.

Competitions are usually only open to women, who must race in heels that are at least 7cm high and no more than 1.5cm wide at the base. Of course, participants must also absolve the organisers of any liability over twisted ankles or other injuries.

The next race will take place on 8 March in Leeuwarden, the capital of the northern Friesland province, in honour of the annual International Women’s Day, which celebrates women’s achievements. The Vrouw! Stiletto Run aims to raise money for Mama Cash, the oldest international women’s fund dedicated to promoting female rights around the world.

Registration costs 30 euros for an individual and 100 euros for a company team of up to five; the team with the fastest runner also wins a booth at next year’s race. The woman with the fastest time wins a wellness weekend for two at WestCord Hotels located across the Netherlands, the second-place finisher gets a makeover for her and her best friend, and the person in third-place receives a wine date for four at Fosk Restaurant in town.

The popularity of these runs has grown worldwide since Glamour magazine organised the first one in Amsterdam in 2006. Competitors can now race in heels in far-flung locales including Moscow, Australia and Singapore. Even men can strap on stilettos for male-division runs in Buffalo, New York and the Philippines, refusing to let female footwear give them cold feet.

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