Bobbi Gibb © Mary Ellen Simmons

Bobbi Gibb

Mary Ellen H Simmons

Johnson City, Tennessee, USA

Artist Statement

I chose to represent in cloth and thread the story of Bobbi Gibb because I am somewhat familiar with women in running. My youngest daughter is a committed runner. She has completed 35 marathons. Her goal is to run all 50 states and most especially to run the Boston Marathon. She is happy that there are no gender barriers in competitive running today.

In reading Bobbi’s journal, Wind in the Fire, I have come to appreciate more deeply the determination, perseverance and endurance a runner must have, and at the finish, the joy experienced. Additionally, I also grew up in the 1950s. I can relate to the sentiment of that era — that there was certain proper behavior expected of young ladies; opportunities were definitely more limited.

Since I have never been to Boston, my quilt is only representational. It is my graphic effort to translate the strength, endurance, perseverance, commitment and determination of Bobbi Gibb and of all women runners.

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

In 1966 Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb became the first woman to run in the 70 year old Boston Marathon. Through this run, she became a pioneer in the field of women’s running; her courageous effort helped bring to public awareness the inequality and unfairness in the way women were viewed and treated.


The quilt was machine pieced, and hand and machine appliqued. I made the templates from a drawing I did. I machine quilted the piece. I hand embroidered the letters.


I used 100 percent commercial fabric, Fairfield cotton batting, YLI silk thread for hand applique, Aurifil, Invisifil, and Isacord threads for piecing and machine quilting. I also used DMC embroidery floss.