It’s been 50 years since that groundbreaking moment.
On Thanksgiving Day, 69-year-old women’s running pioneer Dr. Julia Chase-Brand will lace up her shoes again. She will be taking part in a 4.75-mile race in Manchester, Connecticut while wearing the same blue tunic she donned in the race 50 years ago. Now, women runners will be everywhere around her, but this wasn’t the case in 1961 when it was just Chase-Brand and two other women running the race for the first time.
Her participation in that race was an act of civil disobedience and became a pioneering moment for women’s distance running.
At the time, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) prohibited American women from competing officially in road races.
Their results did not count.
“I consider Julia the first true American woman road racer,” said Amby Burfoot, a nine-time winner of the Manchester Road Race. “She competed in a big race under the full glare of worldwide publicity and she ran fast. She wasn’t an oddball looking for publicity. She was a dedicated, well-trained athlete looking for an outlet for her talent.”
For More: The New York Times