Boston Marathon

Val Rogosheske finishes the Boston Marathon 50 years after her first historic race

“This is a lifelong mountaintop memory.”

Val Rogosheske, who raced in the inaugural women's division in 1972, stands at the starting line of the 126th Boston Marathon, Monday, April 18, in Hopkinton, Mass. Mary Schwalm/AP Photo

At age 75, Val Rogosheske did it again.

She finished the 2022 Boston Marathon, 50 years after she first made history as one of the first women to officially run the race.

“It was good in so many ways and so different from other marathons I’ve done,” Rogosheske told Boston.com. “I was totally spoiled by Adidas and by the Boston Athletic Association — we had the special bus to the start and being able to stay in the Boston house where they had coffee and they had a toilet and things like that.”

Rogosheske was part of an honorary women’s team to commemorate the 1972 Boston Marathon, which was the first year the race officially had female competitors. The team was made up of Rogosheske and seven other women, all of whom have made a powerful impact in some way, ranging from athletics to human rights. 

As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of women running the Boston Marathon, Rogosheske participated in a panel with five of the original runners from 1972 and shot the starting gun for the elite women’s race. 

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“What an honor to shoot the gun to start the elite women,” Rogosheske said. “I was a little afraid that my finger might not be strong enough, but everything came through just right.”

After starting the professional women at 9:45 a.m., Rogosheske, accompanied by her two daughters and her cousin, were allowed to start the race — more than an hour and a half earlier than they likely would have otherwise.

“That made it so nice for us because we took a lot of time — I think our time was something like six and a half hours — and if we had started when we were supposed to, there would have been nobody around when we were running,” Rogosheske said. “This way we were in the thick of the race, and it was just fun to see everybody. And of course to have people there at the finish — that was just so fun.”

Rogosheske finished the race with a time of 6:29:03. She made her way through the course using a “run walk run” method that alternated between running and walking in 30-second intervals. This method, developed by 1972 Olympian Jeff Galloway, is supposed to be easier on people’s joints and is how Rogosheske has been training for the last six months. 

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“In the old days, even getting ready for a good marathon, I didn’t have to run more than 22 miles in prep because the excitement of the day would carry me the extra four,” Rogosheske said. “I thought I could do that now, but at age 75 that doesn’t work as well. My longest run had been 21 miles, and I discovered that last part was giving me trouble that I wasn’t expecting.”

Though she was hurting Monday night, by Tuesday morning she said she was back to moving mostly normally. 

Rogosheske said throughout the race, spectators and other athletes alike cheered and congratulated her. 

“I actually was blown away by some of the reaction of the women who came up to talk to me and thank the eight of us for what we did and saying what the impact was on their life,” Rogosheske said. “That was really, really emotional for me too. So I think in some ways, the importance of that hit me stronger.”

Val Rogosheske (second from left) was joined by her daughters Allie (far left) and Abby (second from right) as well as her cousin Kris Swanson (right). – Sarah Barber/Globe

Her daughters carried signs celebrating Rogosheske, one reading “cheers to 50 years!” with the 0 drawn as the women’s gender symbol. Rogosheske said many people cheered for her by name and, although some misinterpreted the sign and wished her a happy birthday, it was great to feel the support. 

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“That a marathon runner who is focused on a good time would pause to say something — that was really something, too,” Rogosheske said. 

Rogosheske said that while this might be her last marathon, the preparation for the race reminded her that she does enjoy training and racing. She said maybe she will try for some shorter races in the future.

“This was so fun, so special,” Rogosheske said. “This is my first [marathon] in 47 years. So it’s not really my thing anymore. I’m just glad to have had this experience, but I can’t see that I’d want to do it again.”

In 1972, Rogosheske wore race bib “F7” and competed alongside just seven other women. This year, wearing race bib “1972,” Rogosheske participated in the Boston Marathon in a field of more than 12,000 women. 

“I’ve been treated like a queen here,” she said. “And so I’ve got to come down to earth this next week. It’s just fun to have that experience. It’s just been amazing. It’s really been something else. This is a lifelong mountaintop memory.”

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