B.A.A. to Celebrate 50 Years of Women’s Running at the Boston Marathon throughout Marathon Weekend
BOSTON – The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced today that Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb will be the Grand Marshal of the 2016 Boston Marathon® on Monday, April 18. One of the Boston Marathon’s most recognizable pioneers, Gibb became the first woman ever to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966, when she raced from Hopkinton to Boston as an unregistered participant. At that time, women were not yet allowed to officially register for the Boston Marathon. Her successful finish at the 1966 Boston Marathon became a historic milestone in the women’s running movement.
“This year we are excited to celebrate 50 years of women's participation at the Boston Marathon, particularly honoring Bobbi Gibb and her pioneering run in 1966,” said Joann Flaminio, President of the B.A.A. “Gibb changed the course of running history five decades ago, setting the stage for generations to come. Bobbi will lead 30,000 runners, including more than 14,000 female entrants, on their way to Boston on Patriots’ Day this year.”
At the age of 23, Gibb traveled from California to her family’s home in Winchester, Mass., arriving a day before the 1966 Boston Marathon. Waiting in bushes adjacent to the start in Hopkinton, Gibb jumped into the sea of runners shortly after the starting gun sounded, beginning her run to Boston.
Crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 21 minutes, 40 seconds, Gibb became the first woman to successfully complete the Hopkinton to Boston race, placing ahead of many male competitors. Despite not being recognized as an official finisher, Gibb’s drive to complete the race was a watershed moment in women’s distance running history.
In both 1967 and 1968, Gibb returned to Boston and again finished as the top woman. Gradually, the women’s running movement picked up steam and - in 1972 - women were officially recognized as official entrants in the Patriots’ Day race. In the years since 1966, more than 164,000 women have finished the Boston Marathon.
At the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996, Gibb was presented an official finisher’s medal for her runs in 1966, 1967, in recognition of her place in Boston Marathon - and running - history.
“Not only did Bobbi Gibb's run lead to women's participation in marathoning, but it also proved that courage and determination can lead to change,” said Flaminio. “Throughout Boston Marathon week we will honor Bobbi and women of the Boston Marathon.”
During Boston Marathon week, the B.A.A. will celebrate many pioneers in the women’s running movement, highlighting stories of triumph and accomplishment. From the thousands of women charity runners to the six women who have active streaks of 25 or more consecutive Boston Marathons, women’s running will be a key theme at the 120th running of the Boston Marathon.
As Grand Marshal, Gibb will ride in a custom pace car provided by the New England Acura Dealers Association, the official automotive sponsor of the Boston Marathon. Riding ahead of the lead pack, Gibb will signify that thousands of runners will soon be coming down the course. The B.A.A. has reserved the grand marshal role as a position of recognition and honor. Last year’s grand marshal was Dick Hoyt of Team Hoyt, while the 2014 Grand Marshal was four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers.
Over the last 50 years, Bobbi Gibb has reflected upon her 1966 run from Hopkinton to Boston in many ways. Gibb has produced a booklet titled “To Boston with Love: The Story of the First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon,” which chronicles her experience. She has also authored a book titled “Wind in the Fire.”
The 120th running of the Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 18, 2016, and John Hancock Financial is the Principal Sponsor for the 31st consecutive year.