50th Anniversary of First Woman to Run Boston Marathon
In addition to celebrating today’s Boston Marathon runners, this year’s race marks a major milestone: it is the 50th anniversary of the first woman to run the famed race.
While many know the story of Kathrine Switzer, the first female runner to enter the Boston Marathon (she entered as KV Switzer and was almost pulled off the course!), you may be surprised to learn she wasn’t the first woman to actually run the Boston Marathon course. That honor goes to Bobbi Gibb who in 1966 went against the application rejection of the Boston Athletic Association and showed up to run the course anyway. “She dressed in a black bathing suit, her brother’s Bermuda shorts and boys’ running shoes. She’d clipped her hair shorter than she usually wore it, pulled it back and covered her head with a blue hoodie. She hid in the bushes, and when half the pack went by, she stepped into the race and joined them,” writes Jen Miller for espnW.
Gibb admits to struggling to make it to the finish (“if I failed to finish, I would set women back another 50 years–maybe more.”), but she did–completing the race in 3 hours, 21 minutes, 40 seconds–126th out of 540 entrants. Massachusetts Governor John Volpe shook her hand and the headline that appeared in the Boston Globe simply stated, “Girl Finishes Marathon.”
“She saw it as a victory for women, of course, but for men, too. “If a shapely blond housewife can do this,” she says, paraphrasing how some news reports described her, “anybody could do this.””