Bobbi Gibb Was First Female To Ever Run The Boston Marathon

Published on December 13th, 2022 2:39 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel



The story of the first woman to run the famous Boston Marathon race. In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first female to ever run in the Boston Marathon.

Bobbi Gibb, however, wasn't allowed to participate in the race, as she was a woman.

Instead, she had to sneak in.

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Bobbi Gibb had always been a runner.

Instead of taking the bus or driving, Gibb would run the eight miles to school, every single day.

Back in the mid 1960s, there was no such things as running shoes for women.

Instead, she ran in nurses' shoes.

Still, Bobbi Gibb ran and ran.

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In the mid 1960s, Gibb, in her early 20s, decided to start training for the Boston Marathon.

The training was harsh, as Gibb would run up to 40 miles in one day to prepare for the race.

She was ready, but the Boston Marathon didn't want her.

At the time, the maximum distance for a sanctioned race for women was just 1 1/2 miles.

The Boston Marathon was for men.

Gibb applied to run in the race, and was subsequently rejected by the race director, Will Cloney.

The reason?

Women, Cloney said, were not "physiologically capable" of running a marathon.

Application denied.

Gibb, however, would not be stopped.

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Gibb took a four-day bus ride from San Diego to her parents' house in Massachusetts.

In order to look less like a woman, Gibb borrowed clothes from one of her brothers, and also wore a hooded sweatshirt to cover her head.

Gibb would hide in the bushes near the starting line of the race. When the gun went off, Gibb waited for a while and then started out.

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Gibb's fellow racers soon realized that she was a woman, and they almost entirely expressed their support.

Gibb, feeling emboldened, took off her sweatshirt, letting the entire world know that she was a woman and was running in the Boston Marathon.

The crowds cheered. Word quickly spread, and the Governor of the state would find out about it. He would meet her at the finish line and shake her hand.

Gibb would finish the race in an astonishing 3 hours, 21 minutes and 40 seconds.

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The director of the race, Will Cloney, was clearly upset over the developments and denied that Gibb had even taken part in the race.

Members of the crowd and race, however, disputed his claims, saying that Gibb had run the entire race.

Gibb would run again in 1967, posting a time of 3 hours, 27 minutes and 17 seconds.

In 1968, Gibb, accompanied by a number of other women racers, would post a time of 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Gibb had clearly proven everybody wrong, as women were clearly able to take part in the Boston Marathon.

Women were now allowed in the Boston Marathon.

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In 1996, as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association recognized Gibbs' wins in 1966, 1967 and 1968, and formally presented Gibb with a medal.

Gibb would also have her name inscribed with the other winners of the race at the Boston Marathon Memorial in Copley Square.

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