History of Women Running In the last 40 years, many advances have been made in women%u219s running. Inspirational women like Roberta Gibb, Joan Benoit, and Paula Radcliff have helped to make the sport what it is today.

How women's running came to be:

1928- First year women were allowed to compete in Olympic Track & Field events- the 800m- but this was halted due to fainting after the event, as women didn't train properly

1960- Women's Olympic 800m reinstated

1966- Boston Marathon rejects Roberta Gibb's application[1], under the rules of international sports that state women are not allowed in. She sneaks in and runs unofficially

1971- Adriene Bearnes becomes the first woman to finish a marathon in under 3 hours with 2:46:30

1972- Boston officially opens to women and Nina Kusisck becomes the first official female winner. Also the year Title IX passes

1977- World's first sports bra was created by Hinda Miller and Lisa Lindahl. This was made by sewing together two men's jock straps. It now generates $500 million a year, and undoubtedly has helped to increase the number of women runners.

1984- Women's marathon introduced into Summer Olympics. Won by Joan Benoit with time of 2:24:52.

When Roberta Gibbs decided to run Boston, as her story goes, she did not set out to make a feminist statement. She simply fell in love with the Boston Marathon in 1964 when she was out walking her dogs, not knowing that women were not allowed to run.

She trained her own way- she had her boyfriend drop her off from his motorcycle and she'd run home, gradually increasing her mileage. She also drove across country in a VW van and ran up and down hills, through prairies and along the California coast. By the end of her training, she could run 40-mile stretches.

She sent in her application to the Boston race director, Will Cloney. He wrote back a letter that said (from Roberta's story) that "women were not physiologically capable of running 26 miles and furthermore, under the rules that governed international sports, they were not allowed to run." This only fueled her ambition to run.

On race day she hid behind a bush near the start and jumped in the pack when the race started. When the men realized there was a woman running in the race, they cheered her on, and wouldn't let her get thrown out. She finished ahead of two-thirds of the pack with a time of 3:21.

Without doubt, all of these women paved the road for women runners young and old.


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