It’s Women’s History month — what better time to take a little stroll through the long and winding road of women’s running. I think women have been running through the ages, in one way or another, but it’s humbling to remember that not so long ago running and women were rarely heard in the same sentence.
I have to admit I was pretty much blissfully unaware of most these events, or at the very least not really impacted emotionally by them: because I didn’t grow up running. I wasn’t athletic, I certainly wasn’t interested in running, and it definitely wasn’t encouraged — except, ironically, in gym class.
1954: First women runs a sub-5 minute mile
Diane Leather ran 4:59.6 on May 29, just 23 days after Roger Bannister ran his 3:59.4 mile.
1962: Women are allowed to run the 800 meters again
That is the year I was born! Women had been able to run that “long” previously: 32 years ago, in 1928, ironically the year my mother was born. Women were deemed too frail to run that distance after that first Olympic race.
1967: First woman to officially run the Boston Marathon
Pretty sure that everyone reading this blog knows that that was Katherine Switzer, and that the officials allowed her to register because she used initials — they thought she was a man. Woman had run Boston before Switzer, but they were bandits, often hanging out in bushes near the start so no one would see them and tell them they couldn’t race.
1975: Title IX Goes into effect
Although actually becoming a law in 1972, it wasn’t until 1975 that Title IX began to seep into sports. Title IX discouraged unequal federal financial aid and university support for men’s vs women’s programs.
1984: Joan Benoit Samuelson wins the first women’s Olympic Marathon
Isn’t it mind boggling that women were not allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics until I graduated from college? It is to me, anyway! Officials seriously thought women’s uteruses could fall out if they ran a marathon.
2004: Nicole DeBoom founds Skirt Sports
You know I had to go there, right? Nicole, who last year gave the reins of Skirt Sports (click here) over to Sarah Ratzlaff, knew the power of competing, looking cute while competing — and pockets. I am forever grateful that she had that vision and saw it through. I still can be found in Skirt Sports many days.
Do you have a favorite memory of running from long ago?
Who would you add to this list? There are so many more, but I wanted to keep this short!
Do you consider the creation of the Jogbra to be key to women’s running? As a small chested woman — not the mention the fact I didn’t run when it was invented — it didn’t impact me that greatly. What about you?
This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.