Chicks Rule Part II!

Posted by Filed Under: Women's Running

womens runningThe year was 1896, the place was Athens, Greece, and the event was the first modern Olympic Games. Something was missing from this momentous occasion—female athletes. Women were not allowed to compete. In the 1900 Olympic games, things changed slightly, and female athletes were only allowed to compete in “ladylike” events such as tennis & golf.

When it came to the sport of running (especially the marathon), women were not allowed to compete because it was said, ‘they could not safely run the distance’.

Could not safely run the distance? Try telling that today to Krissy Moehl, who was the outright winner of the Where’s Waldo 100K on August 19, 2006, beating the nearest man by eight minutes and next competitor by almost one hour. We should also clue in Darcy Africa, the only female finisher of this year’s Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, and in doing so, she also managed to achieve the lowest cumulative time out of all 11 finishers for this grueling series of four 100-mile races.

b_kathrine-switzer-laufend_.jpgWomen have been fighting for an equal footing in running events for many years. In the 1960’s, Roberta Gibb and Kathrine Switzer (photo at right) ‘illegally’ ran the Boston Marathon. It was not until the 1971 New York Marathon that women had an official division and were allowed to compete. Finally, in 1984, just 22 years ago, the Women’s Olympic Marathon was born.

How many of you remember the 2004 Athens Olympic Games? Did you see the fully clothed Afghani woman by the name of Robina Muqimyar compete (and finish 7th out of eight) in the 100m dash? Even in today’s Afghanistan, women face ridicule, scorn and sometimes worse for participating in sports. They cannot participate openly in sports and have to train in seclusion. Robina Muqimyar faced those obstacles to do what she wanted to—and knew she had to do.

Probably less remembered is the Afghani pioneer, Lima Azimi. Azimi was the first Afghani woman to take part in the world athletics championships (2003 in Paris). She came in dead last, but that did not matter to her. In her own words:

It’s the first time that girls of Afghanistan participate in such a world championship. It is my participation that is important, not my result.

Perhaps there is something to be learned from these pioneering chicks who rule. Whether it’s standing up and fighting for something you believe in, or, maybe more simply, just being thankful that you even have the chance to compete.

About Jessica

Jessica lives in Orange County, CA, home to hundreds of miles of trails and 30% green space along with the Santa Ana Mountain Range. After moving to California from artic Minnesota in January of 2005, she quickly became addicted to trail running, and upon meeting Dean Karanzes at a book signing was inspired to run her first marathon, and subsequently ultra marathon. She completed here first 50K race in July of 2006 and has 50 and 100 mile aspirations. In a short amount of time, Jessica has been active in the Orange County running scene by re-igniting the Saddleback church running group, founding a trail running group, and starting in 2007 launching a series of trail races throughout the county, beginning with the Twin Peak Ultra Marathon in February. In 2002, Jessica had open-heart surgery to repair a leaky mitral valve. Aside from running, Jessica is also a published author and an independent filmmaker. She works as an Information Security Engineer and part time at the flagship Nike Women store. When not out on the trails, working, blogging, writing, making films, or promoting races, Jessica can be found relaxing with her friends at the movies, lounging by the pool, or sharing a tasty meal and a good bottle of wine.

  1. Hannelie on September 21st at 6:51 am

    I am so glad I came across this informative blog.
    I am thinking of taking up some running for recreation fat loss reasons, about 10kg’s.
    I keep procrastinating but with all this info it feels do able already.

  2. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on September 21st at 11:45 am

    Did you know that I’ve been punched by the winner of the 1984 women’s marathon? It even happened during a race.

  3. Wes on September 21st at 1:08 pm

    The world still has a way to go where it comes to women, and not just in running or sports. Kudos to the pioneers.

  4. Jeanne on September 21st at 8:41 pm

    Hannelie: You can do it! let us know how we can help.