Although this may be a little off topic, many of the working moms on this blog run or do some sort of exercise routine, so I thought you might find this story as interesting and moving as I did. 50 years ago, the Amateur Athletic Union prohibited American women from officially competing in road races.
In 1961, Julia Chase-Brand was a sophomore at Smith College. Originally from CT, Chase-Brand had been a runner her whole life. She was determined to compete in the Manchester Road Race, defying social norms that declared running unfeminine and scientific studies that said women who run could lose their uterus. With regards to her decision to run, the headlines in 1961 read, “Move Over Marathoners, College Girl Horning In”; “Coed Just Likes to Run, Yet Burley Males Object”; “She Wants to Chase the Boys”; and one article read, “Under questioning, Miss Chase said she is 5-4 ½, weighs 118 pounds and does not know her other dimensions. (Eyewitnesses report her other dimensions are very good.)”
Julia Brand-Chase had to start a block behind the men, but that didn’t stop her from finishing the 4.75 mile course in 33 minutes and 40 seconds. I know that for many of us moms, running has become a source of great strength. When I read this article, I began to cry at the thought of not having running as a part of my life …not having a race to train for …not getting to experience the excitement and pride of finishing a road race.
50 years after she ran the Manchester Road Race, Julia Brand-Chase will return to Manchester to run again. This time, she will get to begin at the starting line and this time she will be surrounded by women.