Today, millions of women and girls around the world enjoy running and entering races. It wasn’t always so:
* In 1961, when Julia Chase edged to the start of a Connecticut 5-miler, officials tried to push her off the road.
* At the 1966 Boston Marathon, Roberta Gibb hid behind a forsythia bush, worried that police might arrest her.
* The next year at Boston, Kathrine Switzer was assaulted mid-marathon by a furious race organizer.
* In the mid-60s, Indianapolis high schooler Cheryl Bridges was told not to run anywhere near the boys’ track team because she might “distract” them.
* When Charlotte Lettis signed up for the University of Massachusetts cross-country team in the fall of 1971, she was told to use the men’s locker room.
* A few years later in coastal Maine, young Joan Benoit would stop her workouts to pretend she was picking roadside flowers. Benoit was embarrassed that her neighbors might spot her running.
First Ladies of Running tells the inspiring stories of pioneer runners from 1958 until the moment when Joan Benoit hits the finish line to win the 1984 first Olympic Marathon for women. These fiercely independent women refused to give up despite the cultural and sports barriers they faced. Legends such as Doris Brown, Francie Larrieu, Mary Decker, Jackie Hansen, Miki Gorman, and Grete Waitz are chronicled by Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot, who has followed the women’s running movement for 50 years. In a special additional chapter, Burfoot runs the Marine Corps Marathon with Oprah Winfrey 10 years after Benoit's Olympic triumph. Winfrey's successful finish opened the floodgates for millions of midpack women runners.
By refusing to quit in the face of adversity, the pioneer runners inspired the next generations of women both on and off the track. First Ladies of Running is a beautiful and long-overdue tribute to the trailblazers of women’s running, and a gift of empowerment for female runners everywhere. It will make an especially great gift for the many teen runners who participate in cross-country each fall.
With a Foreword by Olympic 10,000-meter bronze medalist (2008) and top American marathoner Shalane Flanagan.
Advance praise for First Ladies of Running:
“First Ladies is filled with inspirational stories of the courage, endurance, determination and rebellion of the pioneer women runners. They are truly the reason so many girls and women are thriving in today’s running scene. Whether or not my 5-year-old daughter chooses to run, I will read her the heroic stories that fill this book.”
Deena Kastor--bronze medalist, 2004 Olympic Marathon; American record holder in the marathon
“First Ladies of Running is a must read for runners and women everywhere. The stories here--from Doris Brown to Joan Benoit--will stay with you through your miles on the tracks, roads, and trails of life.”
Mary Wittenberg--CEO, Virgin Sport; former CEO/Race Director, New York City Marathon
“This isn’t a book just for women. It will also be enjoyed by the many men who shared the roads with the remarkable pioneer runners. It’s especially great for those of us with daughters--daughters we hope will follow the healthy running lifestyle.”
Bill Rodgers--four-time winner, Boston Marathon; four-time winner, New York City Marathon