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First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever
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First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  36 reviews

Today, millions of women and girls around the world enjoy running and entering races. It wasn't always so:

In 1961, when Julia Chase edged to the start of a Connecticut 5-miler, officials tried to push her off the road. At the 1966 Boston Marathon, Roberta Gibb hid behind a forsythia bush, worried that police might arrest her. The next year at Boston, Kathrine Switzer was
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Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Rodale (first published April 1st 2016)
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4.21  · 
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 ·  247 ratings  ·  36 reviews


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Martha☀
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-bingo
I felt quite misled as I read through these 22 runner profiles. I hoped to learn about the female movers and shakers in the world of running. Instead, I found huge gaps in Burfoot's work and was disappointed to see that my own sport of ultra-distance running was not mentioned at all.

This is a history of women's running in the United States with the marathon distance as its pinnacle. Although I enjoyed learning of these American running pioneers, Burfoot fails to mention that international women
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Jessica Larsen
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book in tears. I was unaware of all the hard work women had to do to get this sport to where it was today. To think, we used to be viewed as too delicate to run!
Lize
Sep 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it's hard for a man to give an accurate description of what it must have been like for female runners to compete during a time when women were not allowed on most courses. The individual stories are interesting, but there's a lot missing from this book. For example, there was no mention whatsoever of Stamatis Rovithi or Melpomene and very little mention of Violet Piercy and Arlene Piper. In terms of overall history in the sport, the book fell a bit flat. I preferred Loraine Moller's pers ...more
Beth
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read on the first ladies of running! Inspiring to know a bit more of the pioneering women who made running in public nothing to be ashamed of and you were no less female for competing in races, and winning them! The women who win the races they start to the woman who helped us all realize if you can run a marathon you can do anything.
Dana Mackey
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-winter-2016
In this important book, Amby shares the courageous stories of 22 female runners in the 1960's and 70's. I highly recommend this book for runners and non-runners, women and men! I loved it.
Wendy
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great read about the women pioneers of long distance running! Full review on my blog! http://www.takinglongwayhome.com/2016...
Cathleen Castello
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
It it is crazy that it was not that long ago women were not allowed to run long distances. I really enjoyed this because I love reading about running and reading about badass women.
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This is what it says in the subtitle--22 inspiring profiles of the rebels, rule breakers, and visionaries who changed the sport forever. Ms. Burfoot did a great job of balancing personal details with facts and numbers. It could have been longer and still held my interest, but it didn't need to be. And it was, indeed, inspiring.

In the 1922 Olympics in Amsterdam, the IOC permitted a women's 800 meter race. It had dire consequences for the sport of running. Ms. Burfoot writes that one runner collap
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Dan Becker
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good book detailing the struggles of women in sports in the USA.

It is strange to think that in my lifetime, women could not run cross-country, 800/5k/10k events, or marathons similarly to men. I applaud these women and their supporters for breaking barriers and forging the way to the more healthy environment we have today.

Cheers to these pioneers and the tough struggles, and the visions they achieved to lead the next generations to a more equal playing field.
Karina Dulin
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
It was very interesting to read the stories of these women who were at the forefront of long-distance running for women. I started running in 2006, and I'm sure I benefitted from the hard work and courage of those women who went before me. It's not a quick read simply because of the sheer number of runners profiled, and because the profiles are well-done, but it's certainly an easy read.
Allison Morgan
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love, love, loved it. A must read for any female runner, or really any runner. This was so inspiring and eye-opening. It's hard to believe how recently gender barriers in running were broken down. This made me feel excited for my daughter's generation. Imagine how fast they will be, growing up with all the opportunities that they have. We owe so much to these ladies who paved the way.
Sylvia
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved, loved, loved this book! It was so great to read about my childhood running heroines and learn about many other women runners. This book made me realize that my running path was already well worn by these amazing women.
Kelly
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, running
I absolutely loved reading this. Every single female runner's story featured in this book is so inspiring, and now, more than ever, I can't wait until I can train for another marathon again. If you're a runner, I can't recommend this one enough. Read it!
Stacy
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
It is unforgettable, startling, maddening, and absolutely inspiring to read what each of these women contributed to a sport we regard today as ordinary, popular, and totally mainstream. Although most stories were cloned into the same gratingly repetitious format: middle/beginning/end—their journeys will both baffle and inspire you. I don’t think I will ever be able to put on my running shoes without feeling a certain amount of indebtedness. These women all had a common drive to do what they love ...more
Christi
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure what took me so long to finish this book except that I wanted to read every word about every person highlighted. But there were just too many. And so MANY valuable pioneers in women's running!
Didn't need Oprah in the book.at.all.
Heather Rohrer
A great book about some of the pioneers of women runners. I love the in depth information about each women's upbringing and early running experience. The quotes by the runners are a perfect way to start each section. I throughly enjoyed this book.
Cabra
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humbling and inspiring. I recommend reading slowly and not as a book to fully appreciate each of the First Ladies (I read it too fast!).
Melissa Gastorf
Inspiring stories overall, though including Oprah as a first lady of running doesn't really fit. But the stories were like a gloss over facts without substance
Melody
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and inspiring!
D
a pleasant overview of some of the women who played the most important roles in running history. not super deep -- just . . . pleasant.
Ari Scott
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Incredible and inspiring stories, thoughtful and clear writing. I promise you do not have to be a runner (or a woman) to enjoy it.
David
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
reading it straight through got slightly repetitive as lots of them had fairly similar experiences of overcoming sexist discouragement to take up running.

but read and enjoyed one at a time, what a great set of mini-bios. Many of them are my contemporaries -- I was in the stands in LA in 1984 when Joan Benoit Samuelson won the first women's Olympic marathon gold medal and 30 years later lost a duel with her down Boylston Street to the finish of the Boston Marathon; I raced Marilyn Bevans in the M
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Benjamin Torres
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book a lot, I think women would get more inspiration than me from reading these stories, nonetheless I did find them interesting and worthy of way more recognition than they get, because at least in my country, even when I am involved in running communities and read about running and watch movies and documentaries about runners, I didn't knew anything about the great majority of the 22 women portrayed in this book. The photos are really neat.

I have to confess that on several occasio
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Jill
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a woman that started running at the age of 10 in 1976, I had no idea the struggles of those who came before me. I was amazed by the stories of these strong ladies who did what was right despite what the men in the world thought. Joanie has always been my running hero. Her marathon victory was a huge inspiration and I was privileged to meet her a few years back Amby picked some great woman to profile. I guess my only complaint would be not including some more track athletes like Wilma Rudolph.
Susan
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kept feeling like I was reading a collection of bed time stories if you wanted your daughter to grow up to be a runner. All the "ladies" felt like princesses and instead of waiting for princes, they were waiting for society to stop telling them they couldn't run long distances. One of the reasons for this feeling was that several of the women's lives intersected others discussed in the book. So several times you heard about the same event, or even the same comment. But, great book to learn abo ...more
Christine
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get through this book, not because it wasn't engaging and well-written, but rather because I was taking time at the end of every chapter to savour and process the woman that had just been highlighted. It is incredible and somewhat unbelievable to see how different the world of running was for women as recently as 50 years ago (even just 30 years ago, when the marathon event for women was finally added to the Olympics). A really eye-opening and captivating read which has ope ...more
Walter Underwood
Great short profiles by a writer and marathoner with decades of experience. At a minimum, this needs to be in every school library so kids can use it to write papers for Women's History Month. But it is good reading both for the individual runners and for the slow increments of history in women's running. It starts with women running as unofficial entrants and ends up with half of all entrants being women. Quite a story.
Heather
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea the struggle of former woman runners until I read this book. I had her about the Boston marathon and trying to be pushed off the course by the race director, but there were so many stories similar to this one. I think women today take for granted how far we have come and how just 25 years ago there was still inequality in running. Very enlightening, the type of book you can read a chapter put down for awhile and revisit later.
Joanna Taylor Stone
Currently tapering for my second marathon, I am grateful to these women for making it possible for me to even toe the line at all, considering I was born before the Olympic Marathon for women. I enjoyed reading the profiles of these women and learning both about their struggles and their passion and dedication. Might have to revisit this book before each goal race!
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