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Forty Years For Women At The Boston Marathon

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Mar. 26, 2012
  • Updated Mar. 26, 2012 at 6:43 AM UTC
Katherine Switzer was the first female runner who tried to officially compete in the Boston Marathon. Photo: Letsrun.com

The important milestone will be commemorated this year at the race’s start.

As hard as it is to imagine today, there was once a time when women weren’t allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon.

Supposedly, female runners couldn’t handle the “strain”. The myths were even as bad as women who ran long distances risked doing “damage” to their reproductive systems.

The first female marathoners weren’t allowed to take in the 26.2-mile race until 1972 when the Amateur Athletic Union, the governing body of the sport at the time, conceded and let nine runners take part.

Since then, female participation in the famous race has skyrocketed. In 1982, female runners comprised 11 percent of the field. Last year, that number was 43 percent.

The struggle to allow female runners into Boston began in 1966 when Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb hid behind the bushes at the starting line in Hopkinton before jumping into the race.

Other women runners followed Gibbs’ lead. In 1967, Katherine Switzer officially registered for the race at the insistence of her coach.

For More: Milford Daily News

FILED UNDER: Boston Marathon / News TAGS: / /

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at Competitor.com and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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