1 Marathon, 2 Women, 1 Trophy

Atsede Baysa is an Ethiopian long-distance runner. A day after winning the 120th Boston Marathon, Baysa donated her trophy to Roberta Gibb, the first women’s winner of the ‘Pioneer Era’ in 1966.

When she applied to run in the Boston Marathon in 1966 after training for two years, Gibb’s was rejected. The reason “Women are not physiologically able to run a marathon, and we can’t take the liability.” (Letter from Will Clone, Race Director). He would not have the last word. She was going to run.

On race day, Gibb’s hid in the bushes and waited for the race to begin. When about half of the runners had gone past she jumped in. She was dressed in her brother’s Bermuda shorts, a pair of boy’s sneakers, a bathing suit, and a blue hoodie.

Gibb’s started to feel overheated, but she didn’t remove her hoodie. “I knew if they saw me, they were going to try to stop me,” she said. “I even thought I might be arrested.”

It didn’t take long for male runners in Gibb’s vicinity to realize that she was not another man. Gibb’s expected them to shoulder her off the road, or call out to the police. Instead, the other runners told her that if anyone tried to interfere with her race, they would put a stop to it. Finally feeling secure and assured, she took off her sweatshirt.

As soon as it became clear that there was a woman running in the marathon, the crowd erupted — not with anger or righteousness, but with pure joy, she recalled. Men cheered. Women cried.

By the time she reached Wellesley College, the news of her run had spread, and the female students were waiting for her, jumping and screaming. The governor of Massachusetts met her at the finish line and shook her hand. The first woman to ever run the marathon had finished in the top third.

She finished in three hours, twenty-seven minutes and seventeen seconds. (Some records say three hours, twenty-one minutes and forty seconds)

  1. Your gender is not a liability. “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” ~Roseanne Barr
  2. We all have a purpose.“The purpose of life is not to be happy — but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” ~Leo Rosten
  3. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” ~Madonna Ciccone
  4. Sometimes you’ll have to be the first. “There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.” ~Charles D. Gill
  5. Be prepared for the resistance. “Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.” ~Lois Wyse
  6. The ability to inspire and lead is in all of us. “A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” ~Author Unknown

Originally published at excellencewithyouinmind.wordpress.com on April 30, 2016.

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