Merry Lepper

Female, Person


Who is Merry Lepper?

Merry Lepper is a former American long-distance runner from California who was the first American woman to run a marathon; she is recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations as having set a world best in the marathon on December 16, 1963, with a time of 3:37:07 at the Western Hemisphere Marathon in Culver City, California.

In the early 1960s, Lepper trained with Lyn Carman and the pair began to run unofficially in road races. At the 1963 Western Hemisphere Marathon, the two women hid along the sidelines then joined the men just after the start. A race official attempted to remove them from the course and Carman reportedly yelled, "I have the right to use public streets for running!" The women were timed by a sympathetic AAU official; Carman eventually dropped out around the 20 mile mark, but Lepper finished with a time of 3:37:07 .

Carman would eventually win the Santa Barbara Marathon in 1966, 1969, and 1970, and the World Masters Marathon in 1969.

The book "Marathon Crasher: The Life and Times of Merry Lepper, the First American Woman to Run a Marathon", by LA-based sports journalist David Davis, tells of Merry Lepper's 1963 marathon.

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on July 23, 2013


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