Pippig, Uta (1965—)

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Pippig, Uta (1965—)

German marathon runner .Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1965; daughter of two physicians; studied medicine at the University of Berlin.

On April 15, 1996, Germany's Uta Pippig became the first woman to win three consecutive Boston Marathons, coming from behind in a spectacular finish that only added to the celebratory atmosphere of the 100th anniversary of the event. Battling menstrual cramps, diarrhea, heavy menses, and "palpable embarrassment" that almost caused her to drop out of the race, Pippig pulled ahead of Kenya's Tegla Loroupe at the 25-mile mark of the 26-mile course to finish in a time of 2 hours 27 minutes 12 seconds. With a towel wrapped around her bloodied legs, Pippig grinned gallantly and, in a characteristic gesture, threw kisses to the adoring crowd. However, she admitted that it took almost superhuman will to propel herself through the pain. "After four miles, I was thinking several times to drop out because it hurt so much," she said. "But in the end, I won." Later, instead of participating in the usual round of post-race interviews (during which she had in the past charmed the most hardened of journalists), Pippig checked into a Boston hospital, where doctors eventually pronounced her okay.

Uta Pippig was born in 1965 and grew up in East Berlin, the daughter of two physicians. Although she took up running at age 13, she was 17 before she was selected for one of East Germany's elite sports schools. While there, she was given anabolic steroids, which she took for five months until her mother warned her to stop. In 1986, she met her coach, Dieter Hogen, with whom she is also romantically involved. The pair longed to escape to the West, but Pippig held off defecting to protect her parents' medical careers. In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, she and Hogen moved to Stuttgart. Pippig entered the University of Berlin medical school in 1994, and then divided her time between Berlin and Boulder, Colorado, where she trained.

After winning the New York Marathon in 1993, Pippig ran the 1994 Boston race in a record time of 2:21:45, the third-fastest marathon ever run by a woman. Even suffering from the lingering effects of a nasty cold, she cut 59 seconds from Joan Benoit Samuelson 's 11-year-old course record. Pippig began training for the 1995 Boston race after four months away from running while taking her medical school entrance exams. (She is pursuing a career in sports medicine.) Working her way back from a re-entry eight-minute mile, she nailed down a second Boston win, although race conditions precluded a personal record. Pippig is ranked third among the all-time fastest women marathon runners, trailing only Ingrid Kristiansen and Joan Samuelson.

Although her coach Hogen maintains that it is Pippig's resilience that sets her apart, there are those who believe that her remarkable effort in the 1996 Boston Marathon may have exacted a toll. In the 10,000 meters at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Pippig took an impressive early lead, but dropped out of the race before the halfway mark due to stress fractures in her right foot. Unable to train for five months, she put the 1997 Boston Marathon out of mind and set her sights on the summer European track circuit. When her training program went better than expected, she decided to try for a fourth win in Boston. It was not to be. Although Pippig kept pace with the leading pack of women during the first half of the race, she fell back at mile 16 and finished fourth in 2:28:51. Top honors went to Ethiopia's Fatuma Roba , winner of the gold medal in the 1996 Olympic marathon and the first black African woman to win the Boston Marathon.


"Boston Marathon." The Boston Globe. April 16, 1996.

Huebner, Barbara. "Ethiopian ends Pippig's reign of three years," in The Boston Globe. April 22, 1997.

——. "Resourceful Pippig always finds a way," in The Boston Globe. April 20, 1997.

Noden, Merrell. "Sports People: Uta Pippig," in Sports Illustrated. Vol. 80. April 25, 1994, p. 48.

"Pippig's Progress," in Runner's World. September 1995.

Stach, Reiner. "Behind Blue Eyes," in Runner's World. June 1995.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts