60 years ago, the first woman to complete a U.S. marathon ran to the top of Pikes Peak and back down again | VailDaily.com

60 years ago, the first woman to complete a U.S. marathon ran to the top of Pikes Peak and back down again

Now, hundreds of women gather each year to follow Arlene Pieper Stine's tracks in running’s ultimate challenge, the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon

Jill Rothenberg
The Colorado Sun
Arlene Pieper Stine got into the Pikes Peak Marathon in 1959 as a stunt to market her Colorado Springs health club. When she finished, the 29-year-old mother of three was in the record books as the first woman to finish a sanctioned marathon. Unlike the Boston Marathon, the Pikes Peak race never had a prohibition on women participating. (Photo provided by Pikes Peak Marathon Inc.)

In white shorts, sleeveless blouse and dime-store tennis shoes, Arlene Pieper Stine, 29, stood on the start line of the 1959 Pikes Peak Marathon looking more like Marilyn Monroe than a mountaineer.

But Pieper Stine, then a Colorado Springs health club owner, not only finished the 26-mile race, with its grueling 8,000 feet of vertical gain to the 14,115 summit, she became the first woman to complete a sanctioned marathon in the United States.

Eight years later, Kathrine Switzer would be the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon in a dramatic act of gender defiance.

This weekend, 60 years after Arlene Pieper Stine conquered Pikes Peak in 9 hours and 16 minutes, hundreds of women will line up at the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon start, following her path on one of the country’s toughest and highest altitude race courses.

In 2009, after a long search, a Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon historian tracked down Pieper Stine, who had long ago moved away and was living near Fresno, California. 

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