Archie Scott helps June Connelley open long distance running to women.
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Archie Scott helps June Connelley open long distance running to women.

Archie Scott, June Connelley, and Helen DerPaulian running together. When this picture was taken, it was illegal for a woman to compete in any amateur athletic union authorized race of over a mile. Archie helped June open long distance running as well as other sports to women and those with disabilities.

June Connelley was a 39 year old blind woman who decided in 1967 that she could and should be a marathon runner. She thought the rule against women running long distance was not a logical. She needed to find a coach, but could not find one where she lived in San Francisco.

So June phoned Archie, who told her that he knew some track coaches in San Francisco, so he would help find her a coach. However, no one was willing to rise to the occasion and teach her how to run in any mile long races.

One coach said that he was not interested in coaching any woman, especially one how was blind. “Besides…” he said. “it’s not legal for her to run over a mile in any race and she’s crazy for wanting to run a marathon!”

Since it was impossible to find her a coach in San Francisco, I finally told her, “If you are crazy enough to run a marathon in spite of the difficulties you know you will face, I am crazy enough to be your coach.”

The only race where June was allowed to officially run was the Artesian College Marathon in Artesia, New Mexico. One week prior to the race, June stepped in a hole in the sidewalk while running with her guide dog and injured her leg. It looked like she might not run in the Artesia… however a DMSO product was applied her leg, and she made a speedy recovery. June ran an excellent race in Artesia and finished in 178th place, among all 406 male and female runners who finished the 26 mile race.

June’s race in the Artesia received much publicity and opened long distance running and other sports to women, as well as those with disabilities.