By Wendy Winn, PT, OCS
"There exists no conclusive scientific or medical evidence that long-distance running is contraindicated for the healthy, trained female athlete. The ACSM recommends that females be allowed to compete at the national and international level in the same distances in which their male counterparts compete.” 1980 ACSM Position Statement on women’s distance running.
Thanks, ACSM! Marathons were a part of the first international Olympics in 1896, but it would be almost 100 years before women were allowed to compete. Before 1984, there was no women’s marathon category in the Olympics. 1982 was the first track and field NCAA Championships for women. Since the 1980’s, it’s astounding how far women’s distance running has come. Joan Benoit Samuelson, for example, won the Olympic marathon in 1984 and still races today at the age of 62. She also won the 1979 Boston Marathon with a 2:35:15, and set the women’s record at Boston with a 2:22:43 in 1983. We are still in the first generation of women’s distance runners, which seems almost surreal!