Running in the woods behind her parents house as a child, Bobbi Gibb felt free—like Athena or Aphrodite. She ran on equestrian trails, climbed rocks and trees. She experienced the miraculousness of nature and felt a sense of empowerment as she ran. The world whirled by.

“I discovered that I felt wonderful when I ran and after I ran,” Gibb, now 75, says. “So I would run in the woods, just exploring, and I’d walk, and then I’d flop down on pine needles and look up through the trees.”

It was the early 1950s and her family lived in Winchester, Massachusetts near the Middlesex Fells Reservation just outside of Boston. She spent most of her time outdoors in nature, but it was improper for women or girls to run in public, so she ran with the neighborhood dogs among the trees. She was nine years old.

She did not know at the time that she would eventually go on to change running and what it meant to be a woman forever.


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