One of the first elite US marathoners, Sara helped pave the way for other women.¬†Sara Mae Berman started running and paving the way for other women’s distance runners in the 1960s and 1970s, with tremendous support from her husband, Larry (something she is quick to emphasize). She is best known these days for winning the Boston Marathon three times: 1969, 1970, 1971. In those years, women weren’t officially allowed to run marathons in the United States.

However, there was that six year period between 1966 and 1971 when women ran Boston unofficially. It all started with Bobbi Gibb, when she popped out from behind the bushes to run the 1966 Boston Marathon. Bobbi went on to win again in ’67 and ’68, and then Sara picked up the torch and won the next three years. The rules changed for the following year and women were officially allowed to run marathons beginning in 1972.

In addition to work that supported other women runners and helped change the rules that limited women’s participation in running, Sara Mae was one of the fastest marathon runners in the world on record during her peak. The strides she and other women of her generation made helped set the bar and lay the foundation for the future of women’s distance running in the United States.

Mentioned in this episode:

Starting Line 1928 podcast: an oral history project featuring interviews with pioneering women runners:

Bobbi Gibb: The First Woman of the Boston Marathon:

Evergreen Podcast Network:

Women’s Running Stories on the Evergreen Podcast Network:

Hear Her Sports podcast:

Keeping Track podcast:

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