Allison Roe wins Boston Marathon

20 April 1981

Allison Roe on her way to victory in the Boston Marathon, 1981 (www.photosport.co.nz)

1981 was a memorable year for Allison Roe. In April she became the first New Zealand woman to win the prestigious Boston Marathon, burning off American star Patti Catalano and breaking the course record by nearly eight minutes, running 2 hours 26 minutes 46 seconds. 

Six months later, she overtook Grete Waitz to win the New York marathon. Her time of 2:25.29 was thought to be a world’s best for the marathon, but the course proved to be 150 m short.

Legendary coach Arthur Lydiard had dismissed Roe’s prospects as a marathoner, feeling that at 1.73 m she was too tall. Her victory in two of the five ‘majors’ in one year showed that on this rare occasion Lydiard’s judgement was faulty.

The marathon for women was included in the summer Olympics programme for the first time in Los Angeles in 1984. By then injury had ended Roe’s career. Her 1981 New York time remained an unofficial New Zealand best until 2010, when Kimberley Smith ran eight seconds faster in the London Marathon.

How to cite this page

'Allison Roe wins Boston Marathon', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/page/allison-roe-wins-boston-marathon, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 5-Nov-2020

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