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Cape Ann Celebrates Bobbi Gibb: Boston's First Lady of Running

In April of this year, the Boston Athletic Association celebrated 50 years of women running and acknowledged that the first female runners were in fact “pioneers.”   A new medallion was painted on Boylston Street to acknowledge this important milestone in athletic history.  

At the very core of this social change movement was a woman from Rockport – Roberta Louise Gibb – known internationally as Bobbi Gibb.   Bobbi was recognized for her place in history and given role as the Grand Marshal at this year’s event.  Since Gibb’s pioneering run in 1966, a total of 176,466 women have completed the Boston Marathon. In fact 9.7M are estimated to be running across the world today – 57% of the total running population as reported by RunningUSA.

Bobbi’s story has also been told exquisitely in many Marathon media segments and in Amby Burfoot’s new book, First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever.    It’s now time for her home communities –Rockport (her current home), Winchester (her birth place), and Marblehead, childhood residence – to hear the story in their back yard and see firsthand how Bobbi’s vision and passions have populated her research, writing, and art work.    Among the special events is an up close and personal conversation with Bobbi and Tom Derderian.  Tom Derderian is a former New England road race champion who ran in the Olympic Trials in both 1972 and 1976. He is the author of the award-winning book The Boston Marathon: The First Century of the World’s Premier Running Event and The Boston Marathon: A Century of Blood, Sweat, and Cheers. He lives in Winthrop, Massachusetts.

This special series of events are also a chance to show support for the Bobbi Gibb Marathon Sculpture Project.    This endeavor was launched in partnership with the 26.2 Foundation and will permanently recognize Bobbi’s place in running history.   The effort is endorsed by Joan Benoit Samuelson and 11 other Boston Marathon champions The project’s goal is to raise funds to erect a sculpture of Gibb on the Boston Marathon course.   The sculpture will be created by Gibb herself to show a woman in her 1966 likeness running strong and confidently.  

“As the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon, Bobbi Gibb opened up the door for all of us who followed,” notes Samuelson, a two-time Boston champ (1979, 1983) and winner of the first Olympic Marathon for women in 1984. “Without her courage and determination, we might never have gained the chance.”

Gibb is an accomplished painter and sculptor who studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the mid-1960s--at the same time that she began running longer distances. “For 50 years, it has been my dream to sculpt a life-size woman runner to represent all the fantastic women who have run Boston since 1966,” says Gibb. "I hope it will inspire many girls and women to run strong."

Join us to celebrate Rockport’s Bobbi Gibb at any or all of these events all being held in Gloucester, MA.

Kick-off Bobbi Gibb Marathon Sculpture Project Event:

SUNDAY: August 28th:  6:30 PM Cape Ann Community Cinema presents Free to Run: Movie Premier & Fundraiser: with special guest Bobbi Gibb. Join Bobbi to share this movie and hear her own "firsts" as Boston's own Marathon champion and pioneer.   Tickets are $25 with proceeds supporting the Bobbi Gibb Marathon Sculpture Project!  Book here:

Labor Day Weekend:

SATURDAY:  September 3rd, 11AM-3PM Cape Ann Museum’s White Ellery House 245 Washington Street (@Grant Circle) presents 26.2 Expressions: Nature, Science & Dreams – The Art of Bobbi Gibb - for the first time ever, all of Bobbi’s works will be shown together – paintings, sculpture, and murals.

4:30-6:30 PM: The Hive 11 Pleasant Street.   seARTS Cape Ann and The Hive co-present a panel discussion, book signing  and reception  for Bobbi.  Leading the panel, renowned author of The History of the Boston Marathon, Tom Derderian, with Bobbi Gibb and special guests TBA.   

Book-signing to Include:

  • Pre-Signed copies of Amby Burfoot’s First Ladies of Running

  • Bobbi Gibb To Boston with Love and Wind in the Fire.

MONDAY: September 5th:  O’Maley School, Washington Street.  Bobbi will kick off the North Shore YMCA Around the Cape Ann Road Race & host a tent for runners to get signed copies of Bobbi’s 50th Anniversary poster and First Ladies of Running.

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Presented in collaboration with: Cape Ann Community Cinema, Cape Ann Museum, Cape Ann YMCA, seARTS Cape Ann, and The Hive Cape Ann