Atsede Baysa, Ethiopian long-distance runner, won the Boston Marathon April 18, 2016 in the women’s division and quickly turned her trophy over to former runner Bobbi Gibb. After hearing a bit of history about the race, Basya was moved by Gibb’s story of strength 50 years later.
In 1966, ’67 and ’68, Gibb ran and won the race unsanctioned–being that the Boston Marathon was a male division race until 1972. Her application to run was answered with a letter saying “women were physically incapable of running the distance” and that under the rules that governed amateur sports, women were not allowed to run more than a mile and a half competitively. Alas, wearing her brother’s shorts and a blue hooded sweatshirt over a black tanked-top swim suit, she hid in the bushes near the starting line. After the starting gun fired, she waited until about half the pack had started then jumped into the race. People shortly began cheering her on after realizing, she in fact, was a women.
“She’s inspiring for us, being women and runners,” Baysa said. “Now we are running around the globe. Her story is very touching.”
Race director, Dave McGillivray said nearly half the 27,487 runners who started the race this year were women. Being a 1% increase of female runners every year since Gibb’s historical run.
It’s heartwarming to see two inspiring women supporting each other and honoring the struggle. We can never forget where we were and how for we have come in 50 years. Modern day women won’t have to know what it’s like to hide and pretend to be male to do something they love, because of the strong pioneers like Gibb.