Roberta Gibb Broke Barriers in the Boston Marathon. Now There’s a Statue of Her Feat.
In 1966, Roberta Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon at a time when women were prohibited from doing so because they were considered “physiologically incapable.”
Now, more than 55 years later, Gibb has broken another gender barrier by becoming the race’s first woman to be featured as a sculpture and placed along the Boston Marathon route.
Last week, “The Girl Who Ran” was unveiled by the 26.2 Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes marathoning, and installed in downtown Hopkinton, Mass., where the race begins. The sculpture sits between the starting line and the point where Gibb, after hiding behind some bushes so as not to be seen or caught by authorities, jumped into the race wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt so she could better disguise herself.
The 26.2 foundation commissioned Gibb, who studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and has a background in sculpture, herself to be the creator.
“We were thinking this could be a symbol of all the women pioneers beyond running who have made these breakthroughs as over the centuries,” Gibb said.
The life-size, bronze sculpture depicts Gibb as she crossed the finish line, wearing a pair of her brother’s Bermuda shorts, a bathing suit top and a pair of men’s running shoes, which caused her feet to badly blister. She molded the face to reflect the pain she felt from her feet and the exhaustion.
“I didn’t glorify it or make it smooth — I made it a little rough, because that is how you feel when you run a marathon,” Gibb said. “I wanted it to look like, ‘Oh god my feet are killing me!’”