A Short History of Women’s Running

Posted by Filed Under: Women's Running

womens runningMarch is Women’s history month and in honor of that, here is a very short list of some significant events in the history of women’s running. For more complete lists of achievements please visit the links below.

1928 – Women first allowed to compete in Olympic Track & Field events. Reports of fainting after the 800 meter final cause the event to be dropped until 1960.

1936 – Two women enter the 13-mile uphill Pike’s Peak race.

1959 Arlene Pieper runs the full 26-mile Pike’s Peak up-and-down course in 9:16.

1966Roberta Gibb “unofficially” runs the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:21:40.

1967Kathrine Switzer runs the Boston Marathon with an “official” number.Kathrine Switzer

1970 – The Road Runners Club of America holds first championship marathon for women (won by Sara Mae Berman in 3:07:10).

1971Adrienne Beames becomes the first woman to run a marathon in under 3 hours with a time of 2:46:30.

1971 – Boston & New York City marathons officially open for women.

1972 – U.S. Congress passes Title IX prohibiting gender based discrimination in federally funded programs.

1977 Lisa Lindahl and Hinda Miller create world’s first sports bra created by combining two male athletic supporters and a bit of thread,23414,1065977,00.html

1984 – Women’s marathon added to Olympic Games and won by American Joan Benoit Samuelson in 2:24:52.

2003Pam Reed draws attention to women in ultra running by becoming the overall winner in the 135-mile Badwater Ultra Marathon.

For More Info

Interested in more history about women’s running? Try these sources for starters:

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. Soozan on March 28th at 4:30 pm

    Wow, this is awesome! Thanks Jessica.

  2. Mark Iocchelli on March 28th at 4:38 pm

    You da man! er…woman! (nice job) 🙂

  3. Anne on March 28th at 5:10 pm

    What a great idea, Jessica. I had the pleasure of once running alongside Joan Benoit Samuelson in a race — for all of about five seconds. Certainly a highlight for me.

    What these women were able to accomplish deserves some attention — thanks for drawing it to them.

  4. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on March 28th at 7:14 pm

    One of the advantages of living where I do is that I get to race against Joan at least a few times a year, and see her out running pretty regularly. She even punched me during a race, once. She is a very nice and very approachable person.

  5. 21stCenturyMom on March 30th at 11:15 pm

    Excellent history lesson – thanks for that!

  6. billjank on April 2nd at 7:12 pm

    love the list, but where’s the centuries of running away from randy guys?