Dressed in her brother’s hooded sweatshirt and Bermuda shorts to disguise her femininity, Roberta Gibb hid in a forsythia bush on Hopkinton Street near the start line of the Boston Marathon. After the race started, and half of the men had ran by, she crawled out of her hiding spot and joined the pack. It was April 19, 1966, and she was a woman running a men’s race.

“I thought I might get arrested or they would throw me out,” Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb said, now 73. “But how can we prove that we can do something if we are not allowed to do it?”

When she crossed the finish line three hours and twenty-one minutes later, Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. She was 23. This year when the Boston Marathon celebrates the 50th anniversary of Gibb’s historic run, more than 14,000 women will toe the line. Most of them will have never known a time when they weren’t officially allowed to run the world’s oldest marathon.

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