Monday, April 18, 2016

Bobbi Gibb: Running Is Love


"Running is love," says Bobbi Gibb, the Grand Marshall of this year's Boston Marathon. Fifty years ago she became the first woman to run the Marathon. But to do it she had to sneak in, since women had never been allowed to run! And she had to run in nurse's shoes, since athletic gear didn't exist for women. This is truly mind boggling. Yes, we have moved forward haven't we? She recalls how this extraordinary event came to be, starting with the training she did as she traveled across the country in 1965:
I was getting very strong. I could run 40 miles at a stretch. I’d see the top of a distant mountain, small and pale blue in the distance, and I’d spend all day running there, just to stand on the top. Then I’d turn around and run back. I made camp and slept outside every night, feeling infinitely close to nature. I was on a spiritual journey discovering something basic about existence.

Then in February of 1966, from California, where I had moved, I wrote for my application to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). The Boston Marathon was the only marathon I had ever heard of. Will Cloney, the race director, wrote back a letter that said that women were not physiologically capable of running 26 miles and furthermore, under the rules that governed international sports, they were not allowed to run.

I was stunned.

"All the more reason to run," I thought.

At that moment, I knew that I was running for much more than my own personal challenge. I was running to change the way people think. There existed a false belief that was keeping half the world’s population from experiencing all of life. And I believed that if everyone, man and woman, could find the peace and wholeness I found in running, the world would be a better, happier, healthier place.

It was a catch 22; how can you prove you can do something if you’re not allowed to do it? If women could do this that was thought impossible, what else could women do? What else can people do that is thought impossible?
Gibb is an incredible person, so I urge you to learn more about her online. The remarks I am quoting here are from her essay, A Run of One's Own. She concludes the essay like this:
I have always had a vision of a world where men and women can share all of life together in mutual respect, love and admiration; a world where we find health through exercise and through the appreciation of the spirit and beauty of the world and of each other; a world based on love and individual integrity, where we all have a chance to do what we most passionately love, to help others, and to become all we can become.

We talk a lot about peace. But what is peace? It is not just a passive state of acquiescence. Peace is a dynamic state of human interrelationship, based on fairness and consideration, which requires the hard work of becoming fully who we are and encouraging others to do the same. This is still my vision -- a world free of oppression, full of beauty and based on love. And, this is what I work for in every way I can. I wish everyone well and hope that you are all healthy, happy and doing what you love!

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