Today In Running History: First Woman at the Boston Marathon

Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb in 1966 (photo credit:

46 years ago today, Roberta Gibb became the first woman to race in and complete the Boston Marathon. Gibb’s story is one of determination and liberation. See, the Boston Marathon didn’t open officially to women until 1972. So what was Gibb doing when she ran in back in 1966?

Blazing a trail. At the time, race organizers didn’t believe that a woman could run a marathon without risking death or serious injury. (Back in the 60’s, people also didn’t believe in hydrating during longer runs. Times change.) But Gibb proved them wrong and opened minds to what women athletes really can accomplish. She finished in 3:21, better than well over half of the field that year.

Gibb ran the Boston Marathon “unofficially” for the next two years. In 1967, Katherine Switzer also ran the race, prompting the famous photos of Jock Semple, Boston Marathon race director at the time, trying to pull her from the course (learn more and see the pics here).

For more info on Bobbie Gibb and her epic 1966 run, read Gibb’s firsthand account of the experience, along with her inspiring take on how running can change lives.

  • carol serber

    Please send this information MSNBC Melissa Perry she just did a show which featured Katherine Switzer but to me incomplete with having Bobbi Gibb who was in fact the first non official boston marathon runner in 1966 with a time of 3:21! She also ran unofficially in the same race with Switzer…but she should be recognized and her story told.;)

  • Matt

    Thanks for the feedback Carol. You’re right – Bobbi deserves recognition for her contribution to the sport and helping to show what female runners are capable of.