Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff


  • In 1966 Robin Gibb Bingay became the first woman ever to run in the famed Boston Marathon when she entered as a man. She wore a hooded sweatshirt to cover her face and hair. Unofficially she finished in 125th place out of approximately 500 entrants with a time of 3:21:25.
  • In 1967 Kathrine Switzer also ran the Boston Marathon. Because it was still a male-only event, she registered as K. Switzer and ran the entire route with officials attempting to tear her number from her back. She estimated her time at just over four hours and 20 minutes. Her run created such a stir that the AAU, the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, rallied to get the rules changed. In 1972, after a long and hard five-year battle, Switzer became one of nine women to run officially and legally in the Boston Marathon.
  • Grete Waitz of Norway has won the New York City Marathon nine times, more than any other competitor. She won in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1988.
  • Fan-favorite Uta Pippig won three consecutive Boston Marathons from 1994 to 1996.
  • Ethiopia's Fatuma Roba is also a three-time winner of the Boston Marathon, winning in 1997, 1998, and 1999.
  • Britain's Paula Radcliffe holds the women's marathon record at 2 hours, 15 min. 25 sec. She earned her record on her home turf at the London Marathon in 2003. The American record of 2:21:16 was set at that same 2003 London Marathon by Deena Drossin Kastor. Paula Radcliffe won the Flora London Marathon again in 2005.
  • Deena Drossin Kastor won the 2006 London Marathon, beating the American record she set in 2003 by nearly two minutes (2:19:36).
  • In 2006, Zhou Chunxiu of China won the marathon gold medal in the Asian Games. Zhou went on to become the first Chinese athlete to win the Flora London Marathon in 2007 with a time of 2:20:38.
  • In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Ethiopia's Meseret Defar took gold in the women's 5,000-meter race, beating Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot by less than half a second. Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin beat fellow countrywoman Gamze Bulut and Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal, earning gold in the women's 1,500-meter final.


  • In 1932 Babe Didrikson Zaharias became the only athlete, man or woman, to win an Olympic medal in a running event (80-m hurdles), a throwing event (javelin) and a field event (high jump).
  • Chi Cheng of Taiwan was the first woman to run 100 yards in 10 seconds flat. She accomplished this on June 13, 1970, in Portland, Oregon.
  • Wilma Rudolph lost the use of her left leg when she was four. She wore a brace until she was eight years old and then a special shoe until she was eleven. Five years later she earned a place on the U.S. Olympic relay team that won her a bronze medal in 1956. She was the first woman ever to win three track and field gold medals at one Olympic Games. She earned the gold medals for the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter races in 1960.
  • Florence Griffith Joyner, nicknamed “Flo-Jo,” became the fastest woman in the world when at the 1988 Olympics she ran the 200 meter in 21:34.
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee was given the title of “World's Greatest Athlete” by Track & Field News and owns three gold medals, as well as the world heptathlon record.
  • Evelyn Ashford has more olympic track and field gold medals than any other American woman. She has four golds to go along with her one silver.
  • American superstar Marion Jones was one of the best sprinters and one of the best long jumpers in the world. Jones, a former basketball star at the University of North Carolina, attempted to win five gold medals at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney. She came away with three golds (in the 100-, 200-, and 4x400-meter relay) and two bronzes (in the long jump and 4x100-meter relay).
  • In 2008, former track star Marion Jones was sentenced to 6 months in prison for lying to investigators who were probing her possible use of performance-enhancing drugs. Jones pleaded guilty to drug use and returned the five Olympic medals she won in 2000. The International Olympic Committee has erased all of the records Jones set since 2000, the year she started using steroids.
  • In the 2012 London Olympic Games, the U.S. women's 4 X 100-meter team of Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, Tianna Madison and Bianca Knight won gold and set a new world record of 40.82. The team from Jamaica earned silver with a time of 41.41 and the Ukraine captured the bronze.

Marion Jones (in center)
Marion Jones (center)
AP Photos

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