Running history often notes Roberta Gibb and Kathrine Switzer as among the first American women to run a marathon. However, seven years before Gibb hid in the bushes and snuck into the Boston Marathon in 1966 and eight years before Switzer ran Boston as K.V. Switzer in 1967, Arlene Pieper had finished the Pikes Peak Marathon in 1959. Pieper not only completed one of America’s most challenging marathons, but also became the first official female finisher of a marathon in the United States. Equally impressive was Arlene’s daughter, Kathy, who ran with her mom that day. Kathy reached the summit in a time of 5:44:52, becoming the youngest competitor at that point to finish the race to the summit.
We first met Arlene and Kathy in 2010 at the Pikes Peak Marathon, and we have enjoyed reuniting with them each year since. Every year, both Arlene and Kathy meet new runners at the Pikes Peak expo, and Arlene signs countless photos of her on the summit of Pikes Peak in 1959. Read more about Arlene and/or order a personalized, autographed photo by visiting her website at Arlene Pieper.