Today marks the 126th Boston Marathon, with about 30,000 athletes making their way 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. For a majority of those races, however, women were barred from entering. In fact, 2022 is only the 50th year that women runners have been allowed to race, according to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which organizes the race.
No doubt, some of the 14,000 women running today will spend some of the race reflecting on this milestone for women’s athletics and the original women who made it possible for so many to run today. And one of those women running today made history herself: 28-year-old Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the winner of the elite women division of the Boston Marathon today. She’s the defending Olympic gold medalist in the marathon, as well as the most recent winner of the New York City Marathon, making her the first athlete to ever snag all three titles, regardless of gender.
“Above all, I was feeling she was strong and I pushed it, I feel I’m tired. I go behind, but I didn’t lose hope,” Jepchirchir told reporters, according to Reuters. “The course is tough but thank God I managed to win the race.”
WHAT A FINISH!
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 18, 2022
Jepchirchir finished today with a time of 2:21:01, a few minutes shy of her personal best (2:17:16, which she ran at the Valencia Marathon in Spain in December 2020). Ababel Yeshaneh, 30, of Ethiopia, came in second — just five seconds behind Jepchirchir.
This year’s marathon is also notable because the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the last two races: the 2020 Boston Marathon was canceled, and the 2021 Boston Marathon was held in October instead of in celebration of Patriot’s Day (April 19).
Even beyond that and Jepchirchir’s historical win, there’s no shortage of other inspirational stories among the athletes racing today.
Val Rogosheske, Racing to Celebrate 50 Years
In 1972, Val Rogosheske was one of the eight women who ran the first coed Boston Marathon. She’s now back at age 75, running the race again.
“I am so looking forward to returning to Boston this year with my daughters to celebrate 50 years of women being welcomed into the Marathon,” Rogosheske said in a release from the BAA. “In 1972, the students at Wellesley yelled ‘Right on, sista!’ On the 25th anniversary, the students looked like my daughters, and this year, they could be my granddaughters! I celebrate the progress through the generations as women claim their places on the start line.”
Though 1972 was the first year women were officially allowed to race, trailblazing women runners braved the course before that year. For example, in 1966, Roberta Gibb ran the marathon concealing her gender, hiding under a large blue sweatshirt and ducking behind bushes near the start line, according to The New York Times.
Rogosheske is part of a special team of eight women running in honor of the original eight finishers in 1972, including 37-year-old Swiss Paralympian athlete Manuela Schär, who won the women’s wheelchair race for the fourth time this year with a time of 1:41:08. The other team members include 33-year-old Kenyan runner Mary Ngugi, 42-year-old Paralympic medalist Melissa Stockwell, 22-year-old soccer and football star Sarah Fuller, 50-year-old U.S. national women’s soccer team alum Kristine Lilly, 24-year-old Guinness world record holder Jocelyn Rivas, and 48-year-old running activist Verna Volker.
Adrianne Haslet, Running to Reclaim the Finish Line
There’s also Adrianne Haslet, 41, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing who lost her left foot. She reached the finish line nine years ago — not as a runner, but a spectator — shortly before the explosions went off. In a way, her injury started her running journey, and this year, she approached the finish line — but this time, as a racer. She ran alongside retired pro runner Shalane Flanagan, 40, an Olympic medalist and the 2017 New York City Marathon champion, who will be acting as her support. The two formed a friendship in the year after the bombing.
“There is no place I would rather be than in Boston on Patriots Day and running the Boston freaking marathon next to my friend Adrianne,” Flanagan wrote on Instagram. “I can’t predict what will happen on Monday, but I do know this, this will be the most emotional and meaningful marathon I ever run. The same sidewalk that Adrianne lost her leg in the 2013 bombings is the same sidewalk that I watched my father from (at age 17) and inspired me to become the runner I am…..and I know at this very spot on Boylston, we will find the extra strength we need to finish strong. There are so many incredible stories and journeys to get to the start and finish line of a marathon. But this 26.2 is worthy of extra celebration because Adrianne’s ability to endure and thrive despite many setbacks is just that, a celebration!!”
Haslet herself has taken to Instagram to share her thoughts and feelings leading up to this emotional race day. In a post on the day before the race, she wrote: “The idea behind a kaleidoscope is that it’s a structure that’s filled with broken bits and pieces, and somehow, if you can look through them, you still see something beautiful. I feel like we’re all like that. Filled with beautiful broken pieces. It’s how we turn it and aim it to the light that matters. I don’t know about you, but I’m chasing the light tomorrow.”
The pair crossed the finish line just after 3 p.m. Haslet told the Boston Globe she didn’t even notice the mile markers until 22 or 23 because she “was just having so much fun with Shalane. . . it was the best day of my life,” she said.
Jacky Hunt-Broersma, Breaking Records to Bring Awareness
Also chasing the light is Jacky Hunt-Broersma, 46, an Arizona-based amputee ultrarunner who’s been running a marathon every. single. day. since January 17. Her goal was to run 100 marathons in 100 consecutive days, beating the current female record of 95 days — that is, until British runner Kate Jayden completed 101 marathons in 101 days. How, Hunt-Broersma’s goal is “at least 102,” according to the Boston Globe. The Boston Marathon marks her 92nd marathon in a row.
“I’m hoping this will inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and try something new and truly see what you are capable of,” she wrote on Instagram. “You always got more to give. It doesn’t have to be as crazy. It just needs to push you a little out of your comfort zone🤗. Maybe run your first 5km, half/full marathon or even take on your first ultra. Let me know what you will be doing this year to push yourself a little further.”
She’s also using the project to call awareness to the financial barriers that face amputees who want to be active: “I’ve been an amputee runner for five years and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be supported by some really wonderful brands that have helped me along the way, but not everyone is this fortunate,” she wrote. “Running prosthetic cost anything between 10 – 20 thousand dollars, and many insurance companies see running as a ‘luxury’ for amputees so they don’t cover it. I’ve decided to do this attempt to raise money for @amputeebladerunners. They are a wonderful charity who provide running blades for amputees. I would love to give running opportunities to others amputees like me.”
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.