Mary Tyler: 43-Year Runner

43-Year Runners
Mary (right) with fellow 43-year runner Shirley Jacobson

I was never a fast runner, but by 1977 I had run in several races, sometimes as the only woman, or with only one or two others. Women had finally been allowed to run the Boston Marathon, but many people still thought running was unhealthy for women and should be discouraged. So, when I heard about the women’s race, I thought “I have to do this!” I hoped that knowing there would be many women running a race just for us, would encourage other women to join in.

There were several years that I walked more than ran because of injuries, but I never wanted to skip a race. In 2017, I postponed radiation treatments (benign brain tumor) for a week to make sure they started the day AFTER the 10K, not the week before, so I would be able to make the race.

There have been several highlights in my running career: my first and only first place in a race and running the Millennium Marathon in New Zealand First Dawn 2000, but certainly right up there is the 1977 Bonne Bell Mini Marathon. I had hoped to see maybe 100–200 women at the line, but there were so many—over 2,000!

The history and tradition brings me back each year, certainly the opportunity to see friends who have run all the races, and I love the race itself. It’s a celebration of women, not just a race. The course setup allows you to see thousands of women runners spread out on both sides of Cambridge’s Memorial Drive, with elite runners and mid-pack runners passing each other close by, going in opposite directions. Can’t wait!