Each of these girls is inspiring beyond all measure, but this one, this one really moved me. I’ve tried several times to tell her story to friends and family and cannot get the words out without getting choked up. Amazing.
Bobbi Gibb’s love of running began in childhood and continued long past adolescence, when all the “decent” young ladies left behind such behavior and took up their roles as housewives. “We weren’t expected to have minds, and we weren’t expected to have bodies that ran” she said. Bobbi, however, had both.
She ran often, just for the joy of it, wearing a swimsuit with her shorts and nursing shoes, because athletic companies weren’t yet making supportive garments or footwear for female athletes. In 1965, Gibb loaded up her dog and a VW bus and headed west. Her plan was to see the country and train for what she considered the ultimate challenge, the Boston Marathon. Everyday, she drove and ran… Across the Mississippi, the Midwest, the Rockies. By the end of her journey she could run 40 miles at a time.
In early 1966, she submitted her marathon application and in return received a rejection letter informing her that women were not physically capable of such exertion. Enraged, she hatched a plan. She donned a hoodie and took cover in some bushes near the starting line, then, with no official number, she took off with the runners.
Soon, the men around her realized that she was a woman, but rather than calling in security or berating her as an intruder, they formed a barrier around her and promised to protect her if anyone attempted to stop her. Bobbi took off her hoodie and ran for all she was worth. Word got out, and the crowd went wild with excited enthusiasm. By the time she reached Wellesley College the students had poured out, crying and cheering her on. The mayor of Massachusetts met her at the finish line to shake her hand. She finished in the top 1/3 of the runners, even though she had to limp to the finish, feet covered in blisters from ill-fitting shoes. She went on to run the race 5 more times, and after being denied access to medical school for fear that a woman would “upset the boys in the lab”, got her law degree. She practiced law for 18 years before becoming a research associate of neuroscience at the University of California.
Let nothing stop you.