In April 1981, Allison Roe of New Zealand took the running world by storm when she won the Boston Marathon and set a course record by nearly eight minutes. Then in October, she bested race favorite Grete Waitz, who dropped out at mile 17, to win the New York City Marathon. Roe’s time of 2:25:29 was 13 seconds faster than Waitz’s world-record performance the previous year. Though the course was later found to be 150 meters short, Roe had established herself as a marathoning force. She is one of only two women in history to win the women’s open divisions of the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon in the same year.
Roe’s rise to fame came as women’s marathon running was gaining legitimacy and popularity. Her forthright personality made her a powerful spokesperson for the professionalization of distance running with legitimate prize money and in the fight for equality for female athletes.
A hamstring injury ended Roe’s career ahead of the inaugural Olympic women’s marathon, held at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. But she’s remained plenty active in the years since, taking up cycling and triathlons with great success. In 2017, Roe won a gold medal in mountain biking at the World Masters Games.
Since 2010, Roe has championed health and environmental issues as an elected member of Auckland’s Waitemata District Health Board.
|1981||Peachtree Road Race (10K)||32:38|
|1981||New York City Marathon||2:25:29|