By Bob Ramsay
Nearly 40 years since women were first allowed to run in the Boston Marathon, the world’s most prestigious long-distance race may finally be on the verge of gender equality.
Next Monday, the Boston Marathon could well become the latest front in a second American Revolution.
Leading the fight will be the 16,560 women who make up 46 per cent of the entire field of runners in this 118th Boston Marathon.
It will be a record number of women at the start line and it suggests that next year, for the first time, the majority of participants in the world’s most prestigious endurance race might not be men.
This tipping point isn’t just being neared in Boston. In fact, in running generally, the numbers have already tipped in women’s favour. Last year well over half (56 per cent) of all runners in all races in America — 5K, 10K, half-marathons and marathons — were women.
It’s easy to forget how far women have come, and how fast. Before 1967, no woman was even allowed to run in a marathon, not since the first one took place in the 1896 Olympics in Athens. It was just assumed that women could never endure the gruelling 42.2 kilometres from start to finish. Besides, it was said, they’d damage their internal organs and compromise their fertility.