Woman returns to run Boston marathon 50 years after running on first official women’s field – CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first official women’s field in the Boston Marathon. Eight women started and eight women finished.

One of those women is coming back this year to run again.

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“I’m kind of a historian, herstorian, I’ve been going through photo albums and I thought, boy, this 50th anniversary. I would love to do that,” said Val Rogosheske.

She said that at the first women’s race in Boston 50 years ago, they all felt they were part of something special.

“It was the first year, and there were only eight of us, huddled on the starting line. There was a real sense of excitement.”

The Minnesota native had just started running after graduating from St. Cloud State with a physical education degree. Her husband encouraged her to set a goal so she could keep up with her workout.

“The only race I’d ever heard of was the Boston Marathon and I’d read that women would hide in the bushes and then jump in. So I thought that sounded like a good idea,” she said.

That’s exactly how Bobbi Gibb made history in 1966 as the first woman to unofficially run Boston. But in 1972, the BAA was ready to welcome its first official women’s field.

“If I’m being completely honest, there was a little part of me that was a little disappointed to know we’d be welcome because my mindset was kind of geared towards hiding,” Rogosheske said.

Val gives all credit to her fellow runners that year for getting them to the starting line.

“Kathrine Switzer and Sara Mae Berman and Nina Kuscik won that year. Those three had been working for about eight years to ensure that women could legally participate in the marathon. So I can imagine how satisfied they felt,” she said. “I don’t know if this was said at the start or if it was just my idea about it, but I just knew none of us would drop out. None of us would even walk.”

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Val Rogosheske (WBZ-TV)

Rogosheske recalls feeling only support from the male runners, as well as the crowd along the trail.

“Right at Wellesley College, that first year there, they were like, ‘Right, sister.’ “It was just amazing. Twenty-five years later I came back and they all looked like my daughters. And this year they will look like my granddaughters.”

Fifty years ago, Val finished sixth. She returned in 1973 and ’74 and set a personal best of three hours and nine minutes.

Running had become a way of life, not only for Val, but also for her young family.

“I’d say ‘Mommy’s going to run up and down the street now, and you’re acting. If you need me, just step out the door.’ Even from an early age they knew this was an important part of our lives,” says Rogosheske.

So it’s only fitting that Val is joined by two of her daughters on race day.

What used to be a 70-mile-a-week workout has now been reduced to three days a week. Val also plans to alternate running and walking on race day—whatever it takes to reach the finish line again.

“I just keep thinking about the cycle of life, and how things have improved. That first year there were eight of us, this year there are more than 14,000 women. It’s just a bit mind-boggling to see the difference.”

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You can watch the 126th Boston Marathon live on Monday, April 18, 2022 on WBZ-TV and CBS Boston.com.

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