Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe
Boston Marathon history

More history links:
 History index
 Past champions
 Closest men's finishes
 Closest women's finishes
 Johnny Kelley (1907-2004)

Women Officially Acknowledged in BAA Race

Monday, April 17, 1972

Men's Winner:Time:
1. O. Suomalainen, Finland 2:15:39
2. V. Mora, Colombia 2:15:57
3. J. Sabinal, Mexico 2:16:10
4. A. Penaloza, Mexico 2:18:46
5. P. Garrido, Mexico 2:19:50

Women's Winner:Time:
1. N. Kuscsik, Huntington, NY 3:10:26
2. E. Pederson, CA3:20:35
3. K. Switzer, Syracuse, NY 3:29:51
4. P. Barrett, NJ 3:40:29
5. S. Berman, CSU 3:48:30

This, the 76th Boston Marathon, was a milestone race for women: it was the first Boston Marathon in which women were "officially" acknowledged. Nina Kuscsik was the first official women's division winner of the Boston Marathon, although she had run the race for three consecutive years before this year.

Olavi Suomalainen from Finland placed first for the men, crossing the finish line in 2:15:39

From the Boston Globe, Tuesday, April 18, 1972

Finn Takes lead at Lake St., breezes home
by Jerry Nason

The race:

When Olavi Suomalainen awoke early Monday morning at the home of Karl Makela, his host in Holden, it had been raining. It was cold and damp, and grey clouds were scudding low and eastward. It was the sort of a day to gladden a Finn's heart.

"This is a good day to win a marathon race," Olavi remarked to Lisa, his bride of a year, "Especially if you have never won one before."

So, Karl drove him over to Hopkinton and Olavi won the race, the Boston AA's 76th, in 2h 15m 39s, the third fastest of them all. He defeated crash-finishing Victor Mora of Columbia by 18 seconds to Prudential Plaza in Boston.

But it hadn't all been the nice dampish day it had started out to be. As the sun came out at mid-morning the hearts of the Finns - Marku Salminen was the other - sank. The thermometer crawled up into the middle 50's and Mark said to Olavi, "We will forget our plans to run in 2:14. It is too warm. We will let the race dictate itself.

And that is what Olavi Suomalainen, 25, engineering student, who'd never won anything big in his life, or run over 25 kilometers (approximately 17 miles), proceeded to do.

It was indeed warmer than he hoped, but he got off fast, among the first of the 1081 starters to stampede away from Hopkinton green at noon. He hung around somewhere near the leader for half the distance keeping an eye on things.

The distance over the Newton hills is 4.1 miles and yesterday Soumalainen the Finn raced over them in 21m 28s., the fourth most swift passage the Marathon has ever known. It was a superior effort.

From 300 yards away he fled up and across the Newton hills so fast that he was within a yard of the tiring short striding Mexican (Sabinal) at the Lake St. check point beyond Boston College.

Sabinal went through in 1:50:46 for 21.2 miles of the course, five to go and the Finn was right on his heels.

The length of a football field later, Suomalanien went into the lead, and both runners were almost caught in a squeeze by the photo bus when he did so.

For the Finn, the day and the race were won. He was superbly conditioned; the day hadn't, after all, been too warm or the sun too ardent - and now he had his great 10,000 meters speed to give him complete control of the race in the final five miles.

On down Beacon St. he beat his steady course, drawing away from Sabinal of Old Mexico - and never aware that back there behind him was Victor Mora of Colombia was boiling in pursuit.

Mora was in a sprint over the last two miles. Somebody said he ran from Coolidge Corner to the tape, 2.2 miles, in 10 minutes and 40 seconds. If he did - and its conceivable - then only Shigematsu the Japanese, in his great kick-finish for a record in '65, ever came across the homestretch as fast as the too much too late Colombian did yesterday.

It was an overall fast race. Sabinal who yielded to the Finn and Mora in the final five miles, was third in 2:16:10. Countrymen Alfredo Penaloza and Pablo Garrido came directly behind him in 2:18:46 and 2:19:50.

Mrs. Kuscsik happy depite 'poor' time
by Margo Miller

The winner, Mrs. Nina Kuscsik, thought her time of 3:10:26 was "pretty lousy". She's used to doing the Marathon in 2:56.

Runner-up Elaine Pederson came in salt-streaked but looking fresh as a daisy at 3:20:35 and said that she couldn't have done it without the "wonderful Boston crowds cheering you for the whole 26 miles."

And when it was over, Kathy Miller who was third at 3:29:51, recalled that last week she'd had a dream that Elaine Pederson had beaten her.

This 76th Boston Marathon marked the first time women were legal entrants. Mrs. Kuscsik, Miss Pederson and others of the Boston Nine "ladies" (as the crowds persisted in calling them had run before unofficially.

There was some confusion, but officials figured that Mrs. Kuscsik's time would have been good for about 410th place among the 1081 men. She said the relatively poor times for the women runners may have been due to "trying too hard at the beginning" out at Hopkinton.

For the winner, the "satisfaction was being first in the first official time women could run," said Mrs. Kuscsik peering out at the press from under a big floppy laurel leaf.

Practice running, said Elaine Pederson who does about 50 miles a week, is a great way to day dream and "solve a lot of your problems." But when you race your mind has got to be on form. "You aim for an eight minute mile," she said, and yesterday when she realized she was doing a 7:15 mile, the Boston Marathon was a great place to be.

The only hitch came at the end when the women's locker room below ground at the Pru was discovered to be utterly lacking in soap and towels.