13. Rosie Ruiz Marathon

The Year: 1980

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To observers at the finish line, Rosie Ruiz must have seemed like the fittest athlete ever to run the Boston Marathon.

On this day, April 21, in 1980, the 26-year-old New Yorker finished first among the marathon’s women runners in near-record time just over two and a half hours.

Even more impressive: When officials crowned her the winner, she was barely sweating, according to Mass Moments, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities’ online history almanac. Her hair was still perfectly styled, and her face was hardly flushed after the 26-mile race.

Officials were dubious, however, partly because of her unsweaty nonchalance and partly because no one — neither competitors nor spectators — could remember having seen her during the first 25 miles.

When witnesses came forward a few days later to say they’d seen her run onto the course from the sidelines just a mile from the finish line, her medal was revoked.

“I saw a woman stumble out of the crowd. She looked like she wasn’t a runner. Her arms were flying around. She was wearing a number. I didn’t take her very seriously.”-Spectator at Boston Marathon


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