Run Steffi, run!

Leaping the gender gap (Berlin Marathon 2012, (c) Josephine Landertinger Forero)

More than 44000 people joined the 42 km race in the German capital today. The Berlin Marathon belongs to the World Marathon Majors along with the Boston, the Chicago, the New York and the London Marathon. With 25 % women and 75 % men participating in the Berlin Marathon, the run towards the Brandenburg Gate remains gender unbalanced.

This is still typical for long-distance running, as women are a relatively new force on the official marathon scene. For more than eighty years women were banned from the 42 km run.

Two women became famous in the fight for their right to run. In 1966 Roberta Gibb hid in the bushes near the start of the Boston Marathon. She then jumped into the race, finishing unofficially in 3:21:40 hours. A year later, someone registered to the race as “K.V. Switzer”, so officials were unaware of Katherine Switzer’s sex. She finished the then all-male Boston Marathon in 4:20:00 hours.

It is not surprising that the Boston Marathon in 1972 became the first major race to allow women to compete. When the Berlin Marathon celebrated its premiere in 1974, female participants ran through West-Berlin in the still devidede city.  Jutta von Haase was the fastest woman and won easily with a time of 3:22:01 hours, although she had previously never run a race longer than 1.500 meters. Ten years later, finally, the first Women’s Olympic Marathon took place during the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. Joan Benoit broke the tape after 2:24:52 hours.

Today, Aberu Kebede from Ethiopia won the gold medal in Berlin, arriving at the finish line in 2:20:30 hours.

For more pictures from the 2012 Berlin Marathon, please click here: Slideshow.

Text & Pictures: Josephine Landertinger Forero

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