Arlene Pieper Stein, 90, dies; the first woman to finish a marathon

On August 7, 1959, Arlene Pieper completed the Pikes Peak Marathon, a harsh mountain course in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

She climbed 8,000 feet to the top of 14,000 feet and descended in the same way in 9 hours and 16 minutes.

“At the finish line, I felt pretty good,” she said in an interview with Boston’s public radio station WBUR in 2017. “I’m sure I was a little tired, but I wasn’t completely tired. A few days later I lost all my toenails.”

Her achievements did not create thunder in the sports world, leaving something secret as women competing on more prominent stages achieved marathon milestones. Roberta Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966, with Joan Benowa winning her first victory. The Women’s Olympic Marathon held in Los Angeles in 1984.

After finishing Pikes Peak, Peeper returned to a women’s fitness studio in Colorado Springs owned by her and her husband, Warren Peeper.

She didn’t know for 50 years that she made the history of her movement. She was the first woman to complete a US-approved marathon.

Only then will glory come.

Peeper, recently known as Arlene Piper Stein, died on February 11 in Capitola, south of San Jose, California. She was 90 years old.

Her unreported death was confirmed by her daughter, Kathy Peeper, who stated her mother had Alzheimer’s disease.

Arlene Walrichter was born on March 18, 1930 in Studio City, California. His father, Armin, ran a furniture company, and his mother, Walbourg (Petersen) Richter, was a telephone operator.

Arlene met Peeper, a bodybuilder and soccer player, in high school. He brought weights to her house and they worked in her kitchen. They were still teenagers when they got married.

She also threw javelin throws and discus throws on local trucks, her daughter said in an interview. After getting married, she helped her mother-in-law make an Ice Capades outfit, and Mr. Peeper attended UCLA while working at the gym.

They moved to Colorado Springs in 1957 and opened Arlene’s Health Studio. Peeper suggested to her that she would promote her business by participating in her first Pikes Peak run in 1958. However, she stopped after reaching the summit and was disqualified.

“It upset her all,” said Kathy Peeper, “and she said,’I’ll be back next year.'”

She doubled her training to prepare for Pikes Peak on a sunny day in August 1959.

“I tied the shorts I was wearing at the time with a white blouse with a knot, which was the way it was in the ’50s,” Pieper Stine told WBUR. “And my tennis shoes from the Dime Store, and I went.”

She was accompanied by her husband and Kathy (9 years old at the time) on the climb, whose 5: 44.52 time delayed her mother’s time by 27 minutes. Another woman, Catherine Hard Farr, ran only ascending. Twelve men and a horse named Min have completed the race.

Her marathon career ended after Peeper finished her descent at 3: 54.08. She and her husband returned to California in 1961 and eventually divorced. Her marriage to Eddie Gartha and Richard Stein also ended with a divorce.

A few years after returning to California, she lived in Fresno and worked in fitness studios and sales. And it was almost forgotten that she was Pikes Peak.

“It’s as if she encountered it indistinctly,” said Ron Ilgen, president of the Pikes Peak Marathon, who began looking for her in the early 2000s.

However, due to her relocation and her various renamings, it was difficult to find her. The private detective has failed. And in 2009, as the 50th anniversary event approached, Irgen tried another tactic.

“I advertised in a local newspaper.’Find Arlene Piper’and get paid for $ 200 or $ 300,” he said in an interview. “We were desperate, and the genealogist got it like a bulldog.”

Geneticist Linda Bixie not only tracked Mr. Peeper, but also told her over the phone her distinction as the first woman to complete a licensed marathon.

“It’s just-just surprised me,” Peeper told WBUR. “I said,’Am I the first?'”

Ms for the next 10 years. PieperStine has enjoyed a new position in Manitou Springs as a pioneer on several marathon weekends. She signed. The runner asked her to touch her for good luck. And she was the official starter for each race she returned to.

“In the first year we got there, in 2009, people were lined up on the street,” said Kathy Peeper. “We were in the car and she was waving like a queen.”

Ten years later, in 1959, a group of women dressed in white, as Pieper Stine had, climbed a week before the marathon to honor her.

She was also named one of Runners World’s “Heroes of Running” in 2014 and was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

In addition to her daughter Kathy, she has survived by two other daughters, Karen Peeper and Linda Garza. My son Carl Peeper. 4 grandchildren. And four great-grandchildren.

On the day of the 1959 race, there were no aid stations on the trail, and no volunteers to hand out bottled water or gatorade. Mr. Peeper drank from the stream.

And when she overtook some men while climbing, she remembered and asked, “Isn’t it a beautiful day for the race?”

Arlene Pieper Stein, 90, dies; the first woman to finish a marathon

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