I just came acroos this great thread. I'll add some kudos to female athletes making "mile"stones in high profile sports. These women are tough & are getting tougher, stronger, faster, and - similar to "Betty" - portray untraditional femininity. Great role models for girls of all backgrounds. And more & more women are competing at the highest levels. Road racing is just one example. (Where would we be without Title IX?)
The winner of today's race did it in 2 1/2 hours...egads
"26 Miles Empowered Women Around the World
Two miles into the 1967 Boston Marathon, an official tried to eject me from the race simply because I was a woman. That event changed my life and, as a consequence, the lives of millions of women around the world.
The marathon was a man’s race in those days; women were considered too fragile to run it. But I had trained hard and was confident of my strength. Still, it took a body block from my boyfriend to knock the official off the course and allow me to complete the 26 miles 385 yards.
In 1967, few would have believed that marathon running would someday attract millions of women, become a glamour event in the Olympics and on the streets of major cities, help transform views of women’s physical ability and help redefine their economic roles in traditional cultures.
It happened because on a basic level, running empowers women and raises their self-esteem while promoting physical fitness easily and inexpensively.
In the final 24 miles of my first Boston Marathon, I knew that women needed only opportunities. I have since devoted my life to opening doors, primarily by creating a series of women’s races in 27 countries. That helped pave the way to the inclusion of the women’s marathon as an official Olympic event in 1984. Joan Benoit Samuelson of Maine crossed the finish line first in that race, an important moment for women watching around the world.
We learned that women are not deficient in endurance and stamina, and that running requires no fancy facilities or equipment. Women’s marathoning has created a global legacy.
I have seen women in Brazil and the Philippines race without shoes but with their hearts full of pride. These runners have helped change much of the social and cultural fabric in their countries.
In Kenya, successful female runners are breaking the cycle of second-class status. They go back to their villages and use their prize money to build schools, purify water and start training camps for other women.
In Japan, companies aim to gain prestige by recruiting female marathoners to run at the highest level. In Britain, many thousands line the streets to see Paula Radcliffe race. In Russia, Mexico and Ethiopia, a few thousand American dollars go a long way to making a better life. The winsome Jelena Prokopcuka has injected spirit into Latvia.
In tomorrow’s Boston Marathon, women will make up 40 percent of the field. The percentage is higher in many other marathons. According to Runners World magazine, women account for an average of 51 percent of the fields in all road races in the United States.
At the same time, the quality of women’s performances has soared. When Radcliffe set the women’s world record, 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds, in the 2003 London Marathon, she was also the first British finisher, male or female. The depth of talent has increased to the point that women will be the headliners tomorrow in Boston.
With all due respect to the outstanding international men’s field, including Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya, who won the Boston and Chicago Marathons last year, the real buzz is about the competition among Deena Kastor of the United States, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya and Prokopcuka.
An American woman has not won the Boston race since 1985, so Kastor is under pressure. She has the right stuff. Kastor was the first American woman to break the 2:20 barrier when she won the London Marathon last year in 2:19:36. In 2004, she ran a thrilling come-from-behind race to take the bronze medal in the Athens Olympics.
You can be sure that many lining the route tomorrow from Hopkinton, Mass., to Boston will be screaming encouragement to Kastor to win for the United States, which has struggled to regain dominance in the marathon.
Kastor, who has never run the Boston Marathon, finished sixth in the New York City Marathon last year; Prokopcuka won that race and is making her third Boston appearance. Jeptoo won in Boston last year, even though she arrived only hours before the start because of passport problems. Another contender is Madai Pérez of Mexico, an up-and-comer who may be ready for a breakthrough.
The women’s race should be riveting, and it will be front and center. The Boston race, like several other major marathons, now starts the elite women before the men. The women’s races have become so popular and intriguing that the public and the news media wish to see the race unfold without male runners obstructing the view.
The drama is considerable because the marathon is a long and unpredictable race. Women won the right to run it, and they do so powerfully, inspiring others.
In 40 years, female marathoners have gone from being labeled as intruders to being hailed as stars of the sport."http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/15/sports/15switzer.html