Bonne Bell: 10,000 Meter Race For Women

This video documents Chicago’s first 6.2 mile race for women. Organized and hosted by the Loop Center YWCA in April,1978, it was billed as one of the largest, if not the largest, sporting event for women to that date. Over 2000 entrants completed the race. The tape vividly captures the excitement of women of all ages, races and economic status, many of whom were motivated to run by the desire to do something ‘just for themselves.’ Loop YWCA organizers, Sharon Mier and Erma Tranter appear in the tape as does then mayor of Chicago, Michael Bilandic.

00:00Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “The first 10,000 meter race for women held in Chicago was a Bonne Bell race organized and hosted by the Loop Center YWCA in 1978. It attracted 3000 runners. The cosmetic firm, Bonne Bell, began sponsoring women’s races in cities across the country in the early 1970s.”

00:15Copy video clip URL Opening info card: “Chicago, April, 1978. 3000 Women enter 6.2 mile lakefront race.” Followed by title card: “Bonne Bell 10,000 Meter Race.” 

00:37Copy video clip URL Erma Tranter, YWCA Race Organizer, speaks on the phone. A prospective runner arrives. Sharon Mier, YWCA Race Organizer, speaks on the phone: “I’m beginning to think it might be the biggest athletic event in history for women.” 

01:02Copy video clip URL People gathering at the start of the race. An interview with a middle-aged woman who will be running in the race – her first-ever race – who traveled from Columbus, Ohio.

01:41Copy video clip URL More interviews with women runners about what they like about running. “I can face work in the morning… I feel great.” “It’s just good for you all around, physically and mentally.” 

02:57Copy video clip URL Michael Bilandic, Mayor, City of Chicago.

03:16Copy video clip URL The start of the race. People cheer and shout support as the runners pass the camera. Offscreen discussion of the possible winning time for the race. 

04:39Copy video clip URL An elderly woman talks about jogging regularly as part of conditioning during World War II. She says that she resents not having a race like this to compete for when she was young. 

05:25Copy video clip URL Terra Levin, YWCA Race Official, excitedly discusses the race. 

05:48Copy video clip URL The finish line. Bagpipes start playing as the first-place finisher approaches, with more runners behind her. 

06:52Copy video clip URL Interview with a runner about the race. She talks about starting to run for exercise and how much she enjoyed competing in her first race. 

08:30Copy video clip URL An announcer cheers on the runners and tells them their times as they pass the finish line. Runners walk past the camera. 

09:30Copy video clip URL A runner talks about the race. 

10:15Copy video clip URL A runner details her process for starting to run regularly and her goal of building up to another race in five months. She shares her excitement at getting together and running with women. “It makes you feel strong.” 

11:03Copy video clip URL Footage of runners. 

11:33Copy video clip URL End credits: “By Eleanor Boyer. Video Camera: Joann Elam. Thanks to: Sharon Mier, Erma Tranter, Terra Levin. Loop YWCA Video Project, Chicago.” 




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