AN ALL-FEMALE road race was a novel enterprise for women runners in 1972, although feminists must have grimaced at the bevy of Playboy bunnies who showed up for publicity purposes and sprinted out of the gates at the June 3, 1972, Crazylegs Mini Marathon in New York’s Central Park. Seventeen-year-old Jacqueline Dixon of Los Gatos, California, now known as Jacki Marsh, won the six-mile race with a time of 37 minutes, 1.7 seconds.
The world’s first women-only road race, sponsored by a leg-shaving gel for women, evolved into the prestigious New York Mini 10k. Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and an organizer as well as participant in the Crazylegs race, credits the 1972 mini-marathon with igniting a worldwide explosion in road races for women. “I truly believe the idea came from that first race—the Crazylegs,” she told The Wall Street Journal in 2012. In the next 12 years after the initial Crazylegs race, more than 400 road races for women would be staged in 27 countries.