How Breaking The Rules Changed Women's Sports

How Breaking The Rules Changed Women's Sports

When Roberta Gibb tried to register for the 1966 Boston Marathon, her rejection letter was short and to the point: race regulations didn't allow women to compete in any race longer than 1.5 miles, and women were supposedly physiologically incapable of running a marathon distance. She did it anyway: the day of the race, the 23-year-old hid in the bushes, waited for enough runners to pass, and started to run. She finished in 3:21:40, among the top third of the male finishers. The next year, inspired by Gibb's run, 20-year-old Kathrine Switzer registered for the race using only her initials. She finished in 4:20:02. Her only hiccup came when a race director chased her down and grabbed her mid-race, only to be fought off by the male runners around her. Gibb and Switzer's historic rule-breaking led the Amateur Athletics Union to allow women to enter their marathons, including Boston, in 1971. Today, women make up nearly half of Boston Marathon finishers.

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