News Release Letterhead

Contact: Janet Mendelsohn



April 10, 1996



Eagerly anticipating "The Century Race," just five days away, Wellesley College President Diana Chapman Walsh on April 10 welcomed six of the world's outstanding women athletes to Wellesley to celebrate the 100th Boston Marathon. Defying a late-season snowfall, Wellesley students and marathon fans cheered in a preview of their famed energizing spirit for two-time Boston Marathon defending champion Uta Pippig of Germany; New York City Marathon defending champion Tegla Loroupe of Kenya; #2 ranked U.S. marathoner Kim Jones of Spokane, Washington; Franziska Rochat-Moser of Switzerland, 1995 winner of the Swiss Half Marathon; and Stephanija Statkuviene of Lithuania, 1994 winner of the Reims Marathon in France. The event was the second year for the pre-marathon John Hancock Running and Fitness Clinic in Wellesley's Nannerl Overholser Keohane Sports Center.

Joining the top women runners at Wellesley this year was Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb, who in 1966 was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Now an attorney and sculptor, Bobbi Gibb set the stage for women to obtain official numbers when she jumped into the pack in Hopkinton, launching a tidal wave of excitement that swept down the route.

"That was my senior year at Wellesley," said College President Diana Chapman Walsh. "As I had done every spring since I arrived on campus, I went out to cheer the runners. But there was something different about that Marathon Day-- like a spark down a wire, the word spread to all of us lining the route that a woman was running the course. For a while, the "screech tunnel" fell silent. We scanned face after face in breathless anticipation until just ahead of her, through the excited crowd, a ripple of recognition shot through the lines and we cheered as we never had before. We let out a roar that day, sensing that this woman had done more than just break the gender barrier in a famous race...but we didn't know just how long and hard a struggle it would be for the women who would follow Bobbi Gibb.

"So it is with no small degree of pride, solidarity and awe," President Walsh continued, "that we greet the women of the 100th running of the Boston Marathon here at Wellesley this afternoon. We recognize in your triumphs the steady advancement of women across the entire spectrum of human endeavor, with unwavering courage, tenacity and dignity."

Uta Pippig, speaking for the athletes by her side, thanked the Wellesley crowd for that "screech tunnel," a thundering roar renowned among marathoners for the electrifying boost their cheers deliver at midpoint in the 26.2 mile event. Pippig will seek her third laurel wreath in Boston on Monday.

Hosting the event was Wellesley College senior Heidi Chang, a Chemistry major, who placed second in the 1995 NCAA Fencing Championships and was named Most Outstanding Fencer.