More than 50 years after winning the first Dallas Marathon, Annabelle Corboy is set to participate in the half marathon

The 74-year-old will be participating in the half-marathon at the 50th running of the Dallas Marathon.

Fort Worth resident Annabelle Corboy will be the first to tell you she is nothing special when she laces up her running shoes.

“Let me make sure it’s clear: I am an average runner,” Corboy told The Dallas Morning News. “My main claim to anything is that I’ve been running a long time, and I’ve been lucky to not have been injured and so forth.”

That first statement may be true, but the second is not entirely accurate. She does have another claim to fame.

Corboy was one of 82 participants in the first Dallas Marathon, then called the White Rock Marathon, on March 6, 1971. And she crossed the finish line that day with a time of 4:12:25, becoming the first woman winner of the event.

“For a very, very, very short time, I was a very, very, very minor celebrity,” Corboy said. “I got a couple of letters in the mail, fan letters telling me how proud they were of me.”

More than 50 years after winning the first Dallas Marathon, Corboy will be participating in the festivities once again this Sunday. The 74-year-old will be participating in the half-marathon at the 50th running of the Dallas Marathon.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Corboy’s husband, Mike Poteet, said. “Fifty years of running is a lot of running.”

Kenneth Cooper, the aerobics pioneer, inspired Corboy to start running when she was around 20 years old. At 21, Corboy spent a year earning a master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Illinois.

The school had a fitness program that gave Corboy a really good start in running. When she returned to the D-FW area, she started looking for a club to join to help her continue to run and found the Cross Country Club of Dallas, where she became an involved member.

Tal Morrison was a founder of the Cross Country Club of Dallas and the founding father of the Dallas Marathon. When the first marathon was being planned and prepped, he recruited runners for the event, including Corboy.

She recalls him as eager to get a woman to participate in the race and asked her to run it. Corboy said she had probably never run more than about 10 miles, let alone a marathon, before when he asked.

“He and I ran around the lake, maybe did a 16-mile run, a couple of weeks before the race, and he said, ‘You know, what’s 10 more miles anyway?’” Corboy said. “He talked me into it.”

Of the 82 race participants that first race day, two were women. Corboy was the lone female finisher of the 61 people who completed the race. By comparison, in 2019, the last time the event was held, there were about 2,300 finishers, 770 of whom were women.

Over the years, Corboy continued to run in the marathon, although she did not make it an annual occurrence. She has also run the relay and half-marathon events at the Dallas Marathon.

Corboy did not travel much for her races. She ran the first Cowtown Marathon in 1978 and ran the Houston Marathon a few times. The last marathon she ran was the 2005 Boston Marathon after she was offered a spot in it by a friend.

She never won another race after the 1971 Dallas Marathon but has finished as an age-group winner at multiple events.

Corboy wasn’t planning on running at the marathon this year until she realized it was the 50th running of the event. The symmetry of saying she ran at an event at the first marathon and at the 50th is exciting.

“In spite of the fact that I insist that I’m an average runner, I have spent a lot of hours of my life running,” Corboy said. “It is something that means a lot to me. To be able to kind of look back and say, yeah, I’ve done this for 50 years, it’s something I am proud of.”

posted Wednesday December 8th
by Peter Warren