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The battle for Marathon

January 15, 2016

0415_marathon-elite-women.jpg

Popularity of competitive running for fitness and health has boomed over the last decade and today women are free to take a part in long distance race. But until recently females were barred from the events, as it was widely believed we are not physically, nor psychologically capable of finishing a long run.

In Ancient Greece women had been forbidden from participating at the Olympics, females were not even allowed to watch the competition. So, when the Games were revived at the end of the 19th Century the gender battle for sports had begun. A woman named Melpomene wanted to enter the Marathon, but the organizers denied. She did not take no for the answer, secretly warmed up for the race and run alongside the course. Melpomene passed the dropouts and arrived at the stadium about an hour and a half after the winner. Barred from entering even the completely empty stadium, she did her final lap around the outside of the building, proving women were able to endure the most demanding running discipline.

Thirty years and many efforts from a number of female runners later, Violet Piercy becomes the first officially timed marathon woman. Her result stood as an unofficial world record for nearly four decades, simply because no female was officially allowed to participate in the run. The next benchmark occurred in 1966 at the most prestigious Boston marathon, when Roberta Gibb hid behind a bush dressed in men’s clothes and sneaked into the field at the start. She finished ahead of two-thirds of the men and became the first woman known to complete the arduous course. After the race, Roberta said: “I knew that I was running for much more than my own personal challenge. I was running to change the way people think”.

It took another two decades for the first Olympic women’s marathon to be held in Los Angeles. The long run for the marathon women had finally just begun.

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From → Get Inspired

2 Comments
  1. Oddly enough, I’ve met most of the women in this picture over the past decade or so. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hard to believe only in 1980 Moscow Olympic games women were allowed for the first time to run
    distance race 1,500 m. Bob, it looks you are recording athletic history.:)

    Like

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