The Boston Marathon is America’s iconic race, the oldest marathon in the country, and the most important.
Fifteen runners started the first race in 1897 but only 10 made it to the finish line.
The Boston Marathon is also special because you have to qualify.
They say that a New York Marathon shirt means someone got lucky in a race lottery.
A Boston Marathon shirt means they’ve run fast.
50 years ago, finishers at Boston were rewarded with a bowl of Dinty Moore beef stew.
Oh, and the runners were all male.
Women were banned from running marathons.
The universal thinking was that women were not physically equipped to endure the rigors of the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
Apparently, the strain would cause women’s uteri to fall out or they would become musclebound and hairy.
Now nearly half of marathon entrants are women.
Kathrine Switzer is the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon.
While Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb ran the entire Boston Marathon, she didn’t have a bib.
Instead, she hid in the bushes near the start until the race began.
“Hub Bride First Gal to Run Marathon,” was the headline of the Record American.
Sports Illustrated described Gibb as “tidy-looking,” and noted that her “remarkable feat” and “personal triumph” may “do much to phase out the old-fashioned notion that a female is too frail for distance running.”
Switzer managed to score a bib in 1967 by signing up with her initials, K.V. Switzer.
On Monday, she did the Boston Marathon at age 70, wearing the same bib an official had tried to rip off in 1967.
A few miles in she saw a man with a felt hat and overcoat in the middle of the road shaking his finger at her as she passed.
Then, she heard the sound of leather shoes and knew something was wrong.
She wrote in her memoir:
“Instinctively I jerked my head around quickly and looked square into the most vicious face I’d ever seen. A big man, a huge man, with bared teeth was set to pounce, and before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back, screaming, ‘Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!'”
It took a body block from her boyfriend to knock the official off the course.
Afterward, Boston Athletic Association director Will Cloney was asked his opinion of Switzer competing in the race.
Cloney said (about a 20-year old!)
“Women can’t run in the Marathon because the rules forbid it. Unless we have rules, society will be in chaos. I don’t make the rules, but I try to carry them out. We have no space in the Marathon for any unauthorized person, even a man. If that girl were my daughter, I would spank her.”
Over the years, Switzer has competed in more than 30 marathons, winning New York in 1974 in 3:07:29, and has worked as a television commentator.
She is the founder of 261 Fearless, a running club for women. The name comes from the number she wore in 1967.
It was retired after Monday’s Boston Marathon— just the second number that the marathon has retired.
Middle Name: Boston
Running the Boston Marathon was on Julie McGivery’s bucket list.
Crossing the finish line while 8 months pregnant was probably not the way she had planned to do it!
McGivery said it was a bittersweet moment when she found out she was pregnant with her second child on the same day she received her official acceptance letter to the Boston Marathon.
‘I can’t count how many times people yelled out, ‘Go Mama,’ or, ‘You’re my inspiration, you’re my hero.’ So it was certainly motivating to keep going.’
McGivery and her husband don’t yet know if they’re having a boy or a girl, but she said they have settled on a middle name.
“My husband has agreed that, maybe, the child’s middle name can be Boston, so that someday they’ll say, ‘Why is this my middle name?’ and I can tell them the story.”
Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.