This weekend is the Honolulu Marathon! In honor of all the women (and men) who will run this weekend, I thought I’d provide some story on my favorite pioneer female runners who made it possible. Here are three of my favorites:
#1: Roberta Gibb
Bobbi Gibb is my heroine of running. The first ever woman to run the Boston Marathon did it totally alone. No friends, coaches, family, running clothes, anything – and no number, since they wouldn’t allow her to enter. She snuck onto the starting line and ran it faster than a lot of the men, who to their credit were warm and welcoming. She was finally recognized in 1996 as the official female winner of the 1966, ’67 and ’68 Boston Marathons. She still runs, mostly alone 🙂
#2: Joan Benoit
I have probably watched her historic 1984 marathon win a hundred times. Joan Benoit became the first woman to win the Olympic Marathon when women were finally allowed to run it in 1984. Not only that, but she broke away at mile 3 and ran most of the race by herself.
#3: Katherine Switzer
The one whose efforts made Joan Benoit’s 1984 win possible. She and other greats worked with Avon to organize marathons on 5 continents so that enough countries could qualify female runners to get a women’s marathon into the 1984 Olympics. She became one of the most famous female runners in this moment:
Good luck this weekend, runners! Have fun, be safe – and get massage afterwards!
If you’re interested in other great stories of the women runners who drove the sport forward, check out Amby Burfoot’s First Ladies of Running.