Beginnings of Berna’s Great Leg Road Race (G.L.R.R.)
By: Dave Camire
Hard to believe that in 1980 the longest distance for women in the Olympics was 1500 meters. At the time, women made up a very small percentage of the running community; it was a male dominated sport. People in the sport thought this was ridiculous and a call went out to the RRCA’s member clubs to hold women-only races to prove women could run longer distances. The board of GLRR decided to join the cause by putting on a women’s 5-miler out of Cawley Stadium. The name Great Legs Road Race was the idea of Margaret Mason, wife of the legendary Will Mason. I know most of you have noticed the initials for the race are GLRR.
Dennis Conners was very instrumental in getting this race going. Carrie Stieman of Chelmsford volunteered to be the race director and she assembled a women’s crew to manage the race. Like today, the men worked race day so the ladies could run. The effort worked; in 1984 longer distances were added to the Olympics and New England’s own Joan Benoit Samuelson won Olympic Gold in 1984.
Berna Finley got involved with the race a few years later. You can see her write up of the race in 1990 by clicking here (her article is on page 8).