Eight trailblazing women to run in celebration of 50th anniversary of the first official women’s division in 1972
BOSTON – On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) today announced a team of eight women who will participate in April’s 126th Boston Marathon, running in honor of the original eight finishers from the first official women’s field in 1972.
The honorary team is comprised of eight women who have made a powerful impact in areas from athletics to human rights. Among the eight women is Valerie Rogosheske, one of the original eight finishers in 1972, who returns 50 years later to once again cross the finish line on Boylston Street.
“I am so looking forward to returning to Boston this year with my daughters to celebrate 50 years of women being welcomed into the Marathon,” said Rogosheske. “In 1972, the students at Wellesley yelled ‘Right on, sista!’ On the 25th anniversary the students looked like my daughters, and this year they could be my granddaughters! I celebrate the progress through the generations as women claim their places on the start line.”
Joining Valerie on the Honorary Team are Mary Ngugi, Manuela Schär, and Melissa Stockwell, each of whom will be competing at the front of the race as part of the John Hancock Professional Athlete Team. Football and soccer star Sarah Fuller, U.S. national women’s soccer team alum Kristine Lilly, Guinness world record holder Jocelyn Rivas, and running activist Verna Volker round out the Honorary Team set for this year’s race.
Information on each of the Honorary Team members can be found below. The Honorary Team will be celebrated throughout race weekend at various Boston Marathon events and activities.
BOSTON MARATHON HONORARY WOMEN’S TEAM
- Valerie Rogosheske is one of the original eight finishers from 1972. Valerie is from Minnesota and placed in the top ten at the Boston Marathon three times, taking sixth in 1972 (4:29:32), ninth in 1973 (3:51:12), and eighth in 1974 (3:09:38). This year, instead of lining up among eight female entrants, she’ll be supported and surrounded by 14,000 other women set to complete the 26.2 mile course, including her daughters Abigail and Allie.
- Beyond being a world-class athlete, Mary Ngugi has been a vocal leader in spreading awareness against domestic violence. Following the death of professional athlete Agnes Tirop last year, Mary helped found the Women’s Athletic Alliance and led countless discussions —including with political leaders— to continue the fight against domestic abuse and inequalities. Mary placed third at last year’s Boston Marathon, and is a previous B.A.A. Distance Medley winner.
- Manuela Schär is one of the most dominant wheelchair racers in recent history, having won three Boston Marathon titles and the last three Abbott World Marathon Majors series crowns. At the Tokyo Paralympics, Schär earned five medals (including a pair of golds) in distances from the 400 meters to marathon. She’s the current marathon world record and Boston course record holder (1:28:17), and remains the only women’s wheelchair athlete ever to break the 1:30 barrier.
- One month after being deployed to Iraq as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army’s transportation corps, Melissa Stockwell became the first female American soldier to lose a limb in active combat after her vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Melissa was later honored with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for her service. Four years later, she became the first Iraq War veteran to qualify for the Paralympic Games, competing in swimming at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Melissa competed in Paratriathlon at both the Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo Paralympics, and is a Paralympic bronze medalist. She’ll take to the Boston Marathon’s Para Athletics Division (T63) for the first time, looking to add another title to her impressive resume.
- Sarah Fuller has been a fierce athlete since the age of five, when she first started playing soccer. She made history in 2020 as the first woman to suit up for a SEC football game as a student-athlete while at Vanderbilt University. Two weeks later, she made history again as the first woman to play in and score in a Power 5 football game, notching a pair of extra points for the Commodores. She studied Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt, and is currently pursuing her Masters at the University of North Texas where she is also a goalkeeper for the soccer team. This summer she’ll play for Minnesota Aurora FC of the USL W League. This will be Fuller’s first Boston Marathon.
- Kristine Lilly played 23 years for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, is a two-time World Cup Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and has played more international soccer games than any other player –man or woman—in the world (354). Lilly played professionally in the Boston area for the Boston Breakers from 2001-2003 and 2009-2010. She is one of the most celebrated athletes in women’s soccer history, and was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012 and U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014. She is also the co-author of Powerhouse, a book about teamwork. A resident of Massachusetts, Lilly will take on her second Boston Marathon having run ten years ago in 2012.
- Jocelyn Rivas is a proud Dreamer (DACA recipient) who came to the United States from El Salvador when she was six years old. In El Salvador, she was told she would most likely not be able to walk, but with physical therapy and a continued focus on recovery, she has proven that prediction wrong. She was inspired to run after watching friends in the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon, and soon made it her goal to finish 100 marathons. In November 2021, she completed her 100th marathon at the age of 24, making her the Guinness World Record holder for the youngest woman to run 100 marathons and the world record holder for youngest Latina to ever do so. Boston will be her 112th marathon.
- Verna Volker is the founder of Native Women Running, whose mission is to build and nurture a community that features and encourages Native women runners on and off the reservation. A mother of four, member of the Navajo Nation, and brand ambassador, she balances family, running, and community activism. Verna created Native Women Running to bring more visibility to Native women runners across North America. She is part of the leadership team for the Running Industry Diversity Coalition, which focuses on improving inclusion, visibility, and access for Black, Indigenous, and people of color within the sport. Verna is running on behalf of Wings of America.