The Only World Women’s First Race, 50 Years Later

Julianne Grace started running in 1971 after being encouraged to try out by her husband. They started with a half-mile run. He hated it.

“I went to Catholic school without athletics, except for the gym class, which wasn’t a lot,” said Grace, now 84 years old.

Gradually, Grace added miles and entered his first race, the two-mile race in 1972 in Southport, Conn. He came in first, but didn’t know the traditional destination tape.

“I didn’t realize you had to cross the treadmill, so I took it and ran under it,” he said. “That way I wasn’t a sports fan.”

By 1975, she had gained enough strength for the 10-mile race and heard about the New York Mini running through the Connecticut running community as the first women-only race in the world, created in 1972. The New York Road Runners-driven race started with 72 amateur runners from Central Park. In Grace’s first year, it reached 276 destinations.

“At first I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday, looking at other women and feeling this amazing feeling of empowerment and confidence,” Grace said. “For the first time in my life I felt like an athlete.”

Fifty years after the inauguration, the race is expected to bring together 8,000 athletes on Saturday, including nearly a dozen Olympics and five Paralympics. These include Americans Emily Sisson and Sara Hall, and Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, who recently won the Boston Marathon in April. The winner will receive $ 45,000.

credit …Through Dede Beck

Grace will compete in her 46th New York Mini with her daughter Dede Beck, 60, and Becken Julianne, 27, Melissa, 22, and Allison, 21. Grace has lost only one New York Mini since she started competing in 2010. her 50th wedding anniversary.

A lot has changed in the women’s race since Grace did her first half mile. He remembered an incident at the start of his run, where he was thrown from an empty car with a can of beer. “We really felt like a show,” he said. “It was not uncommon to see women running in shorts. It really wasn’t. “

The New York Mini is not a type of mini-marathon or “mini” race; is the name of the miniskirt, which became popular during the first competition.

That’s not what Grace wore to her first New York Mini: the women’s sportswear she wore to the men’s gym shorts and running shoes was not readily available. He still wears a pair of unused Tiger Jayhawks – “what every man wore” and his chosen shoe in the 1970s.

“The’ 70s, for me, were a decade of women’s awakening, ”Grace said. “The hope that women have in running and so many other sports has come to the fore.”

Two other women in her family have followed in her footsteps.

Grace, who ran three marathons, doesn’t consider himself a long-distance runner, but he still does four or four miles five times a week. On Saturday, he will ride with his daughter in what will be Dede Beck’s 42nd New York Mini.

“It’s a special mini race with all these women,” Beck said.

credit …Through Dede Beck

Beck attended high school and college and was captain of the Duke University cross country team. A lifelong runner, she ran three marathons in less than 3 hours and ran the New York Mini while pregnant with her four children, including one at eight months old.

That all started to change in 2018, when Beck began to develop dystonia of runners, a rare neurological disorder that affects the muscles of the legs. “I was tripping a lot with my right foot; I was going to catch it under the other leg,” he recalled. At first it only affected the running downhill, and then it affected the walker. “I felt like I was running on black ice,” he said.

Beck made his last New York Mini in 2019 and is now involved with crutches. On Saturday, along with Grace, Beck’s daughter Allison will be by her side to help her.

This will be Julianne’s 13th New York Mini race, Melissa’s ninth and Allison’s eighth.

“There were a couple of years where I had to twist their arms to get involved,” Beck said. “I said, ‘This can be counted as my Mother’s Day gift, my birthday present, and my Christmas present.'”

Now, everyone is happy and they know it’s early June. Beck’s inability to give his daughters even more reason to return year after year.

“It’s one of those things that you don’t realize how passionate a person can be,” Julianne Beck said. “He’s going to finish and he’ll do it again, and I’m sure he’ll do it again and again no matter what.”

“It’s pretty special,” Beck said. “God willing, my mom will keep doing this until she’s 100 years old, me and the girls too.”

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