In 1966, Roberta ‘Bobbi’ Gibb donned her brother’s bermuda shorts, white Red Cross nurse boots and a hoodie to get past the crowd of men at the Boston Marathon. Gibb became the first woman to finish the prestigious race. In 1996, the official 1966, 67, and 68 titles were been awarded to Gibb, making her the first woman winner of the race.
This year marks the 120th Boston Marathon and the 50th anniversary of Gibb’s run. She will be grand marshal for this year’s race and it was also announced that her three first-place finishes previously relegated to an “Unofficial Era” would now be part of the “Pioneer Era.”
In all, more than 14,000 women will be in the fray when the 30,747-strong field of runners leave Hopkinton for the full marathon this year. Unlike in 1966, in 2016 the women runners start before the men to allow them a clear field and the winner will receive $150,000 in prize money – the same prize as the men’s winner. So in many ways things have changed in Boston since Gibb’s heroic run.
Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon 50 years ago. Tomorrow 14,000 women will toe the line. https://t.co/zok8AGWVgd
— Monica Prelle (@monicaprelle) April 18, 2016
“It’s an exciting time to be a female athlete, a female runner,” Olympian Shalane Flanagan told the above report. “It’s always been a given to me that I have the same opportunities as men,” she added “I guess I’ve taken it for granted: ‘Oh, that’s how it should be done.’” I just assumed, ‘Why wouldn’t it be that way?’”
"She thought running 26 miles might kill her, thanks to prevailing notions about women’s athletic capabilities…. https://t.co/AilbIyRt9T
— Elena Glassman (@roboticwrestler) April 17, 2016
Now a sculptor, Gibb is working on a piece that will be placed along the Boston course to celebrate the Pioneer Era. “Almost half the race is women now. This is the world that I wanted to create. This is what I wanted to see: men and women and individual people who have taken on the challenge or running the marathon,” Gibb told Boston.com.
Deena Kastor, a three-time Olympian and the American record holder in the marathon is quoted as saying in VICE, “I am eternally grateful for the courage of Roberta to step into the unknown for the sake of pursuing her passion. She is a superhero, a pioneer, and the leader of our sport.”