Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"The Rise of the Female Distance Runner"

From an article on women running marathons and ultramarathons:

If seeing athletes later described as "pretty little dedicated things" compete in that race took some getting used to, imagine the reaction a few months earlier in 1966, when, to quote another SI piece, a "shapely blonde housewife" named Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb Bingay snuck onto the course of the venerated Boston Marathon and not only finished the whole damn thing, but did so ahead of nearly 70 percent of the field. Not officially, of course. "Mrs. Bingay did not run in the Boston Marathon," SI quoted the event's organizer as asserting. "She merely covered the same route as the official race while it was in progress."

The next year, a Syracuse student named Kathrine Switzer officially registered for Boston by filling out her entrant form as "K.V. Switzer." When race officials realized what was going on, they tried to tackle her, a move they later defended as a valiant attempt to enforce AAU rules that banned women — for their own good, of course — from competing in any race of more than those 1.5 miles.