Bobbi Gibb Discusses Changing Social Consciousness through Running

The Chink In The Armor

Fifty-one years ago, a 23-year-old named Roberta (Bobbi) Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. She was later recognized as the women’s winner that year and in 1967 and 1968, making her the first Boston Marathon female winner in history. In the decades since, Gibb has spent her time expanding her knowledge about the world in every way she could: she earned a degree in philosophy at UC San Diego, studied at Tufts and at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, has written two books, became and artist and established herself as an advocate for social change and awareness.

When Gibb spoke with Women’s Running last month, she was at an art colony in Massachusetts, where she’s spent time working on a life-size sculpture of a female runner–the first of its kind that was contracted by the 26.2 Foundation to be displayed along the Boston Marathon route.  [please continue to the Women's Running site to read this article by Meghan Roos]


Just Released: The Girl Who Ran, the children's story on the first woman to run the Boston Marathon

New children’s illustrated title:  Meet Bobbi Gibb at this special book launch in Gloucester, June 13th title celebrates Bobbi Gibb and her historic race.

 Gloucester, MA and Seattle, WA In 1966, the world believed it was impossible for a woman to run the Boston Marathon and Bobbi Gibb proved them wrong. Compendium is honored to announce the release of “The Girl Who Ran”, an illustrated children’s book based on Gibb’s journey to become the first woman to run Boston Marathon.

The book begins with Gibb as a young girl with a relentless desire to run “like the wind in the fire.” A visit to the Boston Marathon with her father ignited her dream to take part in the race. But her application was rejected by the Boston Athletic Association which informed her that women were incapable of running the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. People worried she would cause herself serious injury and thought that she was mentally ill. She proved them wrong and finished the race ahead of about half the men who were running, with a time of 3:21:40.

Authors Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee worked to bring Gibb’s story to life. Illustrator Susanna Chapman visited the Boston Marathon and sketched runners, capturing the spirit and community of the race.  A timeline on the back of the book gives a history on the Boston Marathon and the increasing number of women who joined each year. “The Girl Who Ran” celebrates the achievement of women in sport.

The book offers an empowering message about breaking through challenges, realizing what you’re capable of, and striving for your goals. “The advice I give to young people about shaping the future is to follow your dreams and do what you most passionately feel like doing,” says Gibb. Compendium hopes to inspire a new generation of trailblazers with “The Girl Who Ran.” This title is scheduled to be released Summer 2017.

The book was officially released last week in New York City at the Book Expo America.  Cape Ann, Bobbi’s home, will be the first place to host a local book event.  Jacqueline Ganim-DeFalco (seARTS Advisor) and the Charles Fine Art Gallery in collaboration with The Bookstore, the Sawyer Free Library, Cape Ann Art Haven, and the 26.2 Foundation which is leading the Bobbi Gibb Marathon Sculpture project.  The event takes place Tuesday, June 13th just after school so that parents can bring their children.    “We hope to appeal to children ages 6-11 who are interested in sports, art, history, and breaking barriers of all kinds,” says Jacqueline the organizer.   “Bobbi’s story in this new version is timely to ensure our next generation that all is possible.”   At this event, Bobbi will read from the book and she and the illustrator, Susanna Chapman (Boston) will sign books.  

  • Tuesday, June 13th 4-6:30 PM
  • Charles Fine Arts Gallery
  • 196 Main Street,  Gloucester, MA.

Additional Information:

 Authors Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee are the authors of Miss Todd and Her Wonderful Flying Machine, as well as the co-writers of the Student Academy® Award-winning short film Miss Todd.

“Well-told and illustrated, Gibb’s story speaks to not only women’s fight for equality, but the power of community” KIRKUS REVIEW

Enjoy the Charles Fine Arts Gallery’s current exhibit: Flowers & Elegant Objects

  • View Bobbi Gibb’s Garden Mural & Sculpture; hear about the Marathon Sculpture Project
  • Purchase Bobbi’s books and have them signed by the woman that changed running history & Susanna Chapman the book’s illustrator.Bobbi’s adult reading books will also be available:  To Boston with Love, Wind in the Fire, and 26.2 Essays

This event sponsored by Charles Fine Arts Gallery, The Bookstore, The Sawyer Free Library, Cape Ann Art Haven, the Bobbi Gibb Marathon Sculpture Project & seARTS

Bio of Bobbi Gibb:

Bobbi Gibb's zest for life and natural curiosity show up in the many hats she wears:  mother, scientific researcher for neurodegenerative diseases, attorney, athlete, author and speaker, to name a few. While many people know her as the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, few people know her as an artist.  Aside from running, she finds creative expression through her bronze and wax sculptures and acrylic paint murals.  In honor of the 50th year of her run in 2016, Bobbi is sharing her lifetime wish for her artwork – to sculpt a life-size statue of a female runner and have it places on the Boston Marathon Course.   She is a three-time winner of the Boston Marathon Women’s Division in the Pioneer era, 1966, 1967 and 1968. She was the first woman ever to run and complete the Boston Marathon in 1966 at a time when it was believed that women were not physically able to run marathon distances and were not allowed to complete in events longer than one and a half miles.   Her list of honors is long and can be found at Her feat disproved widely held beliefs about women and was a pivotal event in triggering the second wave of the women’s movement and in changing the consciousness about women’s capabilities. Her sculpture reflects her love of sports and celebrates the human body in motion.  

Bio of Illustrator:

Susanna Chapman studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and now designs childrens’ books in the Boston area. She attends the Boston Marathon every year, not to race in it herself, but to cheer on the 30,000 men and women who do! Susanna finds her own wind in the fire through drawing and painting and going on bicycle adventures with her husband and friends.


Bobbi at APG Booth at BookExpoAmerican NYC

Events will feature Marathoner Bobbi Gibb's Artwork Contributions

It only seems fitting that someone who has as many varied interests as Bobbi Gibb does would be front and center at a handful of different events across Cape Ann over the next two weeks. The Renaissance woman's current focus is the Bobbi Gibb Marathon Sculpture Project, created with the goal of erecting a sculpture of Gibb, a Rockport resident, on the Boston Marathon course.

By Jason Brisbois /

It only seems fitting that someone who has as many varied interests as Bobbi Gibb does would be front and center at a handful of different events across Cape Ann over the next two weeks.

Gibb -- who gained fame as the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon during a time when women weren’t allowed to participate in the sport -- is also an accomplished artist and author, has a law degree and does research on ALS as a neuroscience affiliate at MIT and the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.   Read more here!


Runningonom Podcast by Julia Hanlon: Bobbi on running, spirituality, & creativity

Julia Hanlon interviewed Bobbi in her home in Rockport earlier this month.  Download or listen to this engaging podcast that covers the full range of Bobbi's passions - how they are interconnected and why she has pursued them.   This interview provides a rich back drop to her current endeavor to create the first ever life size sculpture of a female runner on the Marathon course.

Bobbi Gibb to Sculpt Statue: April 13th Kick-off at Hopkinton Country Club

BOSTON (AP) — Some of the biggest names in Boston Marathon history are backing an effort to put up a statue honoring the first woman to complete the race — an accomplished sculptor who has been commissioned to create the piece.

The 120th marathon next week marks the 50th anniversary of Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb's pioneering run in 1966, when women were not even allowed to register. She hid in the bushes at the starting line in her brother's Bermuda shorts, pulled her hood up to hide her ponytail, and jumped into the all-male pack of runners.

Those who know her say Gibb, now in her 70s, is modest and has never tried to exploit her groundbreaking run for personal gain. She admits she's a little uncomfortable creating a statue of herself, but she's doing it to honor the tens of thousands of women who have followed her footsteps.

"I'm really embarrassed doing a sculpture of myself, so I would prefer to do a generic woman, maybe with the names of the first 50 women's winners," Gibb, who studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School and still runs almost every day, said from her studio north of Boston.

More here: