Violet Stewart Louisa Piercy (24 December 1889 – April 1972) was an English long-distance runner who is recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations as having set the first women's world best in the marathon on 3 October 1926 with a time of 3:40:22. [nb 1] Piercy was reported to have run unofficially and her mark was set on the Polytechnic Marathon course between Windsor and London.[nb 2]
Piercy died in April 1972 in a London hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage, hypertension and chronic kidney-related infection. The death certificate mistakenly gave her surname as Pearson.
- The marathon world record progression of the Association of Road Running Statisticians includes Piercy, however, it notes Marie-Louise Ledru of France as the first woman. According to the ARRS, Ledru ran 5:40:xx at the Tour de Paris Marathon held on 29 September 1918.
- A number of sources, including Kathrine Switzer, have reported that the venue for Piercy's mark was the actual Polytechnic Marathon; however, records from the Association of Road Racing Statisticians confirm that the 1926 Polytechnic Marathon was held on 18 May. The course for the Polytechnic Marathon did vary over the years and there is currently very little information available to state exactly which route was run by Piercy. Although the IAAF progression notes the location for her performance as "Chiswick", the Polytechnic Marathon did not end in Chiswick until 1938. Prior to 1933, the Polytechnic Marathon ended at Stamford Bridge in West London. An ESPN reference does note Stamford Bridge as the location where Piercy's run finished.
- According to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, the course for the Western Hemisphere Marathon was short in 1962 and 1963. The ARRS also notes the date of the race as 14 December 1963.
- "12th IAAF World Championships In Athletics: IAAF Statistics Handbook. Berlin 2009" (pdf). Monte Carlo: IAAF Media & Public Relations Department. 2009. p. 653. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- Sporting Females: Critical Issues in the History and Sociology of Women's Sports By Jennifer Hargreaves
- Noakes, Tim (2003). The Lore of Running (Fourth ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 675. ISBN 0-87322-959-2.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- "Western Hemisphere Marathon". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
The 1962-63 courses are considered to have been short.
- "World Marathon Rankings for 1963". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- Rob Hadgraft. "Violet and Paula - England's gift to the marathon world!". Diary of a Clapped-Out Runner. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
| Women's Marathon World Record Holder
3 October 1926 – 16 December 1963*
(*see explanation in the Notes section)
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