No one runs for you

May 8, 2012

50 years ago, before women were even allowed to run in distance races, people discussed whether running with men would help women run faster:

Still can’t figure out why this is a problem. You always have someone to pace you (unless you’re already winning), but you still have to do the running.  And why is this only a problem for women?  Why is it OK for men’s races to hire rabbits?  How come no one worries that I might run faster by pacing off of faster runners?

(LDL, Feb. 1961)

Grace Butcher: Patience Pays Off

May 1, 2012

Another look back to the days when women, those poor, delicate creatures, weren’t allowed to run long races.  An entire lap?  Two laps?!  Too far!

Grace kept training while society changed.  She was US champion in the 800 in 1959, and she’s won a number of age group championships since she began racing Master’s track in 1977, including a silver medal at the World Games in 1989.

In 2003, at age 69, she was quoted in the Boston Herald as saying, “The older I get, I have fewer training partners. But I’ll never stop. When I was younger I had such a skinny body – I knew I’d never make it in Playboy, so I started running,” she joked. “To this day when I run I feel beautiful – exactly the same as 40 years ago.”

In addition to running, Grace is a retired college English professor and also a poet and editor of a literary journal.  Her poetry includes a number of pieces on running, such as “Do We Need an Ambulance for Cross-Country?”.

(LDL, Feb. 1961)

A Woman’s Place Is On the Roads

April 14, 2012

This year, the Boston Marathon is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the marathon’s first official women runners.  To commemorate that event, let’s go back even further, to the 1961 Manchester (CT) 5-Mile Race, for a glimpse of what things were like for women who wanted to run 50 years ago.

The race officials tried to keep the women out:

But some of them ran anyhow:

Here’s what the Feb. 1962 Long Distance Log had to say:

In the same issue, Jim Fields quotes the then-current AAU rule.  In another sign of the times, his complaint is more about the grammar than the rule itself:

Things were different back then

March 27, 2012

This is from the January 1973 Runner’s World.  It’s not something they’d print today:

I’m going to try to post to this blog more frequently.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or by clicking the “Follow blog via email” button to your right, or if you subscribe to my RSS feed, I’ll let you know when I’ve posted something new.  There’ll be lots of fun bits from running history, articles, videos and whatever else might come along.

If you have any ideas you’d like to contribute to this space, send them to me at


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