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Boston Marathon celebrates 50 years of female participation

The 2016 Boston Marathon marks the 50th anniversary of Bobbi Gibb's participation at the historic event.

Bobbi Gibb

Fifty years ago, American Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb changed the Boston Marathon forever as she became the first woman to finish the event during a time when women were prohibited from competing. In 1966, she was the unofficial winner of the Boston Marathon, her first of three pre-sanctioned era victories at the world’s most famous road race.

This year’s race numbers

Number of women to have competed since 1966: 183,549
Women competing at the 2016 Boston Marathon: 14,094
Age range: 18-83

Fifty years ago, Gibb leapt out of the bushes adjacent to the start line in Hopkinton, Mass. and joined hundreds of runners who completed the event. The 2016 edition of the race is also the 120th anniversary of the Boston Marathon, the oldest continually run marathon in the world.

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In 1996, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), the host organization, retroactively recognized the official winners of the 1966-1971 races. In 1967, Gibb finished an hour ahead of the next closest female competitor, Kathrine Switzer. The German-born runner is known for being the first athlete to run with the event with a race number.

The 1972 edition of the Boston Marathon was the first time women were welcomed as official race entrants.

On March 15, 2016, Gibb was named the grand marshal for this year’s Boston Marathon. Gibb ran the 1966 race in surf shorts she borrowed from her brother, a swim top, and boys’ shoes.

Tracksmith, a premium performance apparel line based in Massachusetts, has a pop-up shop on Boylston Street with commemorative Bobbi Gibb shorts on display. Participants who race Boston for the first time in Tracksmith shorts are eligible to have their entry fees reimbursed by the apparel company.

Bobbi Gibb

Bobbi Gibb

Bobbi Gibb

The women’s marathon was introduced to the Olympics in 1984 in Los Angeles. The first-ever Olympic women’s marathon was won by American Joan Benoit.

Below is the race schedule for Monday’s race (all times EDT):

Mobility impaired: 8:50 a.m.
Wheelchair men: 9:17 a.m.
Wheelchair women: 9:19 a.m.
Handcycles: 9:22 a.m.
Elite women: 9:32 a.m.
Elite men and wave one: 10:00 a.m.
Wave two: 10:25 a.m.
Wave three: 10:50 a.m

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