Back when women had no say, Tersilla ran Around the Bay

scotto

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Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator
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What was strictly against the rules then is something to celebrate now, writes Paul Wilson.
February 19th, 2019 Paul Wilson Special to The Hamilton Spectator



Tersilla with her trophy to commemorate being the first woman to run the Around the Bay Road Race in 1975. - Gary Yokoyama,The Hamilton Spectator


Three years ago, Tersilla Komac got the satisfaction of seeing four grandchildren run the Around the Bay. From left, Leah Shaunessy and Nicki, Kelly and Christopher Komac wear Just Like Nonna T-shirts. - Family photo


When Tersilla grew up in Italy, she didn’t run but she did like to ride. That’s her with the bicycle. - Family photo


A Burlington Y running group called Magnificent 7 added Tersilla Komac to its ranks, and in the 1970s encouraged her to run the Around the Bay — even though women weren’t allowed. - Family photo
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Tersilla Komac is getting a plaque in her honour on the Hamilton Beach Strip.
The reason? A long time ago, she went somewhere she wasn't supposed to. And a year later, she went there again.
She went around the Bay, is what she did. Just up and joined a race women that weren't supposed to run.
But what was strictly against the rules then is something to celebrate now.
Tersilla, 86, smiles at the thought of her image and story on a plaque for all to see.

Read whole article;
https://www.thespec.com/opinion-sto...women-had-no-say-tersilla-ran-around-the-bay/
 

scotto

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Staff member
Feb 15, 2004
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The Beach Strip
#3
Tersilla Komac is getting a plaque in her honour on the Hamilton Beach Strip.
The reason? A long time ago, she went somewhere she wasn't supposed to. And a year later, she went there again.
She went around the Bay, is what she did. Just up and joined a race women that weren't supposed to run.
But what was strictly against the rules then is something to celebrate now.
Tersilla, 86, smiles at the thought of her image and story on a plaque for all to see.
I see the plaque was install within the last day, across from the store and not far from the Herald marker.

I have attached a picture of the plaque and what is on display in honour of Tersilla.


Hamilton's Around the Bay Road Race, established 1894, is the oldest road race in North America, three years older than Boston Marathon. The race remained closed to women for 85 years, until Tersilla Komac came along. Born in Castelfranco Veneto, north of Venice, Tersilla Beraldo had no time for running in Italy. She was too busy working on the farm. Coming to Canada in 1954 at twenty-two, she married Emil Komac and set about raising three children in Burlington.

In the early 1970s Tersilla was suffering the painful, but temporary effects of Bell's Palsy, a condition affecting the facial nerve. Sleeping was difficult, so she took to walking to exhaust herself. Seeing runners going past, she thought "I'm going to start running too. Maybe it will make me even more tired." At first Tersilla ran alone, increasing her distance until she was running fifteen miles each day except Sunday. She joined a group of men running out of the Burlington YMCA called 'The Magnificent 7, and began to run races with them. After an early race in Burlington, organizers apologized for having no trophy for her, explaining that no woman had ever entered before.



The "Magnificent 7 ran the Around the Bay Road Race annually, so in 1975 Tersilla decided to run it too. Women were not allowed to register in the race, but she just showed up at the start and ran along with all the men anyway, later saying "once it started, they couldn't stop me", (she would use the same strategy when she ran the Boston Marathon). Hamilton police would not halt traffic for her, as they did for male runners, suggesting she had no place among them. Race officials were angry to see her finish. In 1976, running mate Gord McComb successfully registered Tersilla as simply VT. Komac', procuring an official number tied to her name. Despite being the inaugural woman to run The Bay, she again crossed the finish line to no fanfare.

In 1979 the race officially opened to women, but family commitments prevented Tersilla from running Around the Bay a third time. At the 100th anniversary of the race she was given an honourary First-Woman trophy, and a bib with number V1975' (at left). Today, those who run the oldest road race in North America each March are evenly split between men and women.


All images courtesy Tersilhi Komac.

Womenand the Bay.JPG
 

scotto

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I was on hand today as Tersilla visited the Beach to see her new plaque which was installed across from the store. Tersilla is middle with Ward 7 Counsellor, Esther Pauls on her right and Anna Lewis, the Director of Around the Bay Race.

Tersilla.JPG
 
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