Forty seven years ago, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. By taking those figurative and literal strides in a time when females were not yet allowed to officially race, Gibb not only helped change the rules of this famous sporting event, but she changed public perception about what women were capable of accomplishing with both their bodies and minds. She did this simply with her own two feet and a whole lot of determination, and she continued running even when marathon officials and protesters tried to stop her.
Growing up in Boston, it was this kind of story that always struck me with awe whenever the marathon rolled around each year. After all, the race has come to symbolize the fact that –no matter our skin color, nationality, gender, or religion– as humans, we have the power to go great distances by merely using our own two feet. Furthermore, the marathon shows us that if we don’t have the use of our own two feet we can cover great distances by using our arms to propel a wheelchair, and if we don’t have use of our arms the human spirit can propel us along in the form of a loved one running behind us and pushing our chairs. It was this celebration of humanity that brought me, my parents, siblings, and cousins to a street corner every marathon Monday of my childhood, and I daresay we partook in this event more religiously than we did any other holiday. No matter what personal dramas any of us were going through, we always made the time to go cheer on the runners, and I have such fond memories of holding out paper cups of water for the athletes, and of my aunt learning all the top-contenders’ names so she could call out personalized encouragements as they ran by.
For me, these memories will always be what the Boston Marathon is about: Dixie cups, and curbside lessons on the power of my own two feet. And today, as I breathe a sigh of relief that my family is all safe and sound back in Beantown, I invite anyone else reading this to bask in these kinds of fond memories with me and to celebrate the trailblazers of this world who make a difference with nothing more than determination and their own two feet. Leave a comment.
Image via Pinterest.