In 1975, with the time of 3:04:32 , Marilyn Bevans became the first Africian American to win a marathon at the George Washington’s Birthday Marathon in Beltsville, Maryland. She went on to finish 4th in the Boston marathon in 2:55:52 and became the first African-American woman to run under 3 hours. She wasn’t done there, in 1977, Marilyn crushed the Boston Marathon in 2:51:12, finishing 2nd and became the first African-American woman to medal in Boston. Her personal best was in 1979, in Boston with a time if 2:49:56.
She put Africian American women on the chart for distance running.
“I enjoyed training. I loved training. I wasn’t thinking about being the first [black woman], honestly. I just wanted to be the best and compete. I wanted to win, and I knew with hard work I was going to have a shot.”
Now 72, said she didn’t have a running coach but she trained with the Baltimore Road Runners. Making great training partners amongst Black men in her community.
“There were no wireless headphones. I would run with my transistor radio. I didn’t have a GPS watch. We used to place markers on trees.” -Marilyn Bevans
Marilyn’s perseverance, grit, and incredible will led her to overcome barriers for women and specifically, Black women in long distance running. In 2018, she told The Undefeated, “It’s amazing and warms my heart to see young, healthy, black and brown people running and running hard!”
Learn more about Marilyn here:
“Just Run — trailblazing marathoner Marilyn Bevans met the challenges and became a champion,” by Percell Dugger for The Undefeated, November 2, 2018
Featured in “First Ladies of Running,” by Amby Burfoot, published 2016