Women of Interest—Bobbi Gibb

Photo by RV1864 on FlickR

Roberta Louise “Bobbie” Gibb is the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon during the pre-sanctioned era, which included the years 1966 to 1971. She was not officially recognized at that time, as women were viewed as not being physically able to compete in events longer than one and a half miles.  This did not deter Gibb from her goal. On the morning of the Boston Marathon in 1966, Bobbi borrowed her brother’s Bermuda shorts and pulled a blue hooded sweatshirt over her head. She hid in the bushes and, after the starting gun fired, she joined in the race about mid way. When the men became aware she was a woman, they were very supportive.  Also when the crowds lining the streets realized she was a woman, they cheered her on.  Gibb finished the race ahead of two thirds of the runners and the Governor of Massachusetts, was at the finish line to shake her hand. As a result of this courageous act, Bobbi Gibb was significant in changing wide held beliefs about women’s capabilities, and she has been celebrated for triggering the second wave of the women’s movement.

Bobbi Gibb was born November 2, 1942 in Cambridge Massachusetts. She was a wearer of many hats. Gibb received her Bachelor of Science in 1969, with a major in philosophy and a minor in mathematics, but stated she was refused entrance into medical school because of her gender.  In 1974 Gibb changed her path and entered the New England School of Law and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1978. At this time Bobbi Gibb was married and raising a family while practicing law.

Gibb is also an artist and writer. She sculpted the bronze figurines which were given to the top three women marathoners at the US Olympic trials in 1984. It was not until 1996 that the Boston Athletic Association finally recognized Gibb as the pre-sanctioned era women’s winner in 1966, 1967 and 1968. In honor of Bobbi Gibb’s run over 50 years ago, she is working on sculpting a life-size statue of a female runner that will be placed on the Boston Marathon course.   Fund raising for this project is ongoing. Gibb continues to write on a wide variety of topics and has recently written her memoir “Wind in the Fire: A Personal Journey.”

At the present time Gibb is working at the Cecil B. Day Neuromuscular Laboratory, finding causes and hopefully cures of many neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  She has received many honors and awards, which are listed at the following website: https://sports.jrank.org/pages/1629/Gibb-Bobbi-Awards-Accomplishments.html

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