Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Running's most rebellious women - thank you

In honor of International Women's Day, TIME did a profile of history's most rebelious women, like Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc (yay for including a medieval woman). The sport of women's running only exists because some women chose to say "Yes I can" when everyone else thought it was unhealthy, unfeminine, unnatural for women to run. So those rebellious women, thank you. Just to name a few:
Roberta Gibb: The first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966. She stepped out behind a forsythia bush, wearing her brother's running shoes, and finished the marathon.
Kathrine Switzer:
The first official female finisher of the Boston Marathon in 1967. She dodged Jock Semple, who tried to throw her out of the race. Not only did she finish, but she became an integral component to champion for women's participation in the marathon. She went from running 4:20 in her Boston debut to 2:51.
She helped advocate for there to be a women's marathon in the Olympics, and her dedication to the women's running movement has
been tremendous. I have had the opportunity to meet her twice. She is very gracious and very kind, and her efforts ultimately helped bring me to this sport.
Joan Benoit Samuelson:
I don't know if she would want to be called rebellious. But her successes in Boston and Chicago, and ultimately winning the gold in the first women's marathon in the Olympics in 1984 brought women's running to the center stage. She showed that women could compete at an elite level, and succeed doing so. And now, she has shown the enormous capacity and potential master runners have - she has run a 2:47 at age 53. That is a time that is not achievable for most of us, but she has done it on several occasions. For over 3 decades now, she has been tremendous in her performances.
Paula Radcliffe, also tremendous, said "I can't imagine my life without running." I truly believe that now - my life has been greatly enhanced by this sport. It is only because of efforts by these great women, and others, that women can run when they want:young, pregnant, masters, anyone. We get to live the dream that once used to be a distant possibility.

1 comment:

  1. In my running club newsletter a long time member was quoted, "to these pioneers [women runners], both runners and workers, we owe a huge debt and we salute you one and all."