On Saturday, November 3rd, 1979 the first (and, I believe, only) Los Angeles Women’s Marathon was held in Los Angeles, California. The race covered 26 miles and 386 yards in Los Angeles County, tracing the exact route taken by the competitors in the 1932 Olympics. According to The Los Angeles Times, the race was being looked at as a sort of “test run” by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee putting together the 1984 Games in that city .
The marathon was sponsored by 20th Century-Fox whose chairman, Dennis Stanfill, was a running enthusiast as well as a member of the L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee . Between 50 and 60 women participated in the marathon. The winner was a 39-year-old woman from New Zealand named Beverly Shingles, who ran the marathon in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 46 seconds .
What does any of this have to do with M*A*S*H, you ask? I recently found on my computer two scanned promotional photographs that were sold on eBay in 2002 (I didn’t buy them but saved copies) that show participants in the Los Angeles Women’s Marathon visiting the M*A*S*H set.
I don’t think the captions provide any helpful information about when the photographs were taken or who the women in them are. But an article in The Los Angeles Times about Beverly Shingles notes that “on the day before the race, Shingles jogged outside the hotel and visited the set of M*A*S*H at 20th Century-Fox, which sponsored the race” . So the set visit took place on Friday, November 2nd, 1979.
You can read more about the 1979 Los Angeles Women’s Marathon at Running Times Magazine. For the record, the 1984 Olympic Games did include a women’s marathon; you can read more about the history of the sport at MarathonGuide.com.
1 Moran, Sheila. “A Path Out of the Past Could Open Up the Future.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Nov. 1979: E1.
3 Moran, Sheila. “Shingles Saves Best for Last, Wins Marathon.” Los Angeles Times. 4 Nov. 1979: C1.