The Woman Who Crashed the Boston Marathon

In February of 1966, Bobbi Gibb received a letter from the organizers of the Boston Marathon. She expected to find her competition number inside, but instead found a letter that notified her that she was disqualified because “women are not physiologically able to run a marathon." The Amateur Athletics Union at that time prohibited women from running farther than 1½ miles, and the organizers just couldn’t take risk the liability associated with her competing. Refusing to take no for an answer, the 23-year-old hid in a bush near the marathon start line. Disguised in a hoodie and her brother’s Bermuda shorts, Gibb joined the throng once half of the men had already started running. Her identity was soon obvious, but she received encouragement from spectators who yelled, “Way to go, girlie!” Gibb tore through the finish line 21 minutes and 40 seconds later, finishing ahead of two-thirds of the male competitors and becoming the first woman to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The next year, one other woman unofficially took part in the Boston Marathon, and by 1972 the Amateur Athletics Union rule was lifted and 9 women competed. By 2022, 12,155 of the entrants into the Boston Marathon were women, nearly 45% of the marathon’s total runners.