Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on September 13th, 2016
Bobbi Gibb: The first woman to run the Boston Marathon.

Bobbi Gibb
Bobbi Gibb  
Photo: espn.com

50-years-ago, Bobbi became the first woman to run the famed Boston Marathon. This despite Marathon officials rejecting her application because she was a woman.

How Bobbi managed to run that race is a remarkable story:

(Story continues from "Read More")

In 1964, Bobbi's dad took her to watch the Boston Marathon, where at the age of 21, she fell in love with this famous race, a race for men only.

But determined to compete, at a time when there was no training regimen for women, Bobbi's boyfriend would drive her on his motorcycle ever greater distances from her Boston area home, noting the miles, and Bobbi would run home.

Eventually, Bobbi and her boyfriend married, and moved to San Diego where he served in the U.S. Navy.

Meanwhile in San Diego, Bobbi kept training, with the goal of running the 1966 Boston Marathon.

But her application was rejected because of her gender.

In 1966, women couldn't get credit cards or buy homes without a male guarantor. In addition, women could not attend Harvard, Yale, Princeton or many other top schools, nor were they welcome in many professions.

However, none of this could stop Bobbi from running the race of her dreams.

For four days and three nights, Bobbi rode the bus from San Diego to Boston, arriving the day before the race.

Just before the Marathon began, Bobbi hid in the bushes near the starting line, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, the hood pulled over her head, and her hair tied back.

She wore her brother's Bermuda shorts and a black bathing suit which served as her underwear and running bra.

When the race started, Bobbi slipped into the crowd of runners and began running.

Bobbi Gibb
Bobbi Gibb  

She feared being removed from the race but her fellow runners said, "We won't let that happen. It's a free road."

"That's when I took off the hooded sweatshirt and everyone could see I was a woman."

The crowd was shocked, but then loudly cheered her on.

23-year-old Bobbi ran the race in 3-hours and 21-minutes, finishing ahead of 290 of the 415 male starters.

Afterward Bobbi received extensive media coverage, coverage which encouraged other women to pursue their dreams.

The next year Bobbi was allowed to run the race, as was another woman. The following year Bobbi was among five women entrants. Each year, Bobbi made a strong showing and finished first in competition with the women.

Bobbi's courage had broken the Boston Marathon glass ceiling, which because of its high visibility, became an important step in obtaining equal rights for women.

So what became of Bobbi? It's an interesting story, one we will share with you next week.

Editor's Note: To read Bobbi's account of running the 1966 Boston Marathon, click here. To learn more, click here and here. To see "5 things women couldn't do in the 1960's", click here.


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