NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Close to half of the field lining up for the TCS NYC Marathon on Sunday are women, but it wasn't always that way.
Just 50 years ago, six women changed the face of the NYC Marathon forever by sitting down when the starting gun went off.
Today we celebrate the "Six Who Sat." They may no longer run marathons, but their contribution to the sport is indelible.
In 1972, six women sat on the starting line of the marathon to protest inequality between the sexes and the sport was changed forever.
Before the 1970s, women were barred from most marathons. At the time, so-called experts believed long distance running was harmful to a woman's reproductive health and some actually claimed running could cause the uterus to fall out.
Such misinformation kept many women from running, but in 1972, the Amateur Athletic Union ruled that women should be allowed to run marathons.
However, the new rule called for a separate but equal start -- with men starting 10 minutes after the women.
And to many athletes that was unacceptable. Fred Lebow, the founder of the NYC Marathon, agreed and is credited with coming up with the idea for the start line sit-in.
The Six Who Sat made their point and soon the separate but equal rule was scrapped.
The start-line protest became a watershed moment that ushered in a breakthrough for women in the sport.
HOW TO WATCH THE TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON
Marathon Day in New York is coming up November 6th! The TCS New York City Marathon will be broadcast to more than 530 million homes around the world, with a Spanish language broadcast being produced nationwide for the first time by ESPN.
WABC-TV and ESPN2 have been home to the award-winning broadcast of the world's largest marathon since 2013.
It will be the first Spanish-language broadcast of any marathon to air on ESPN Deportes, airing live on ESPN3 and the App from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and then will re-air on ESPN Deportes from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST.
Joining the talent team for this year's domestic broadcast will be five-time TCS New York City Marathon champion and 13-time Paralympic medalist Kurt Fearnley and running reporter Chris Chavez. Fearnley will be in the broadcast booth as a race analyst for all four professional divisions, and Chavez will make his broadcast debut on the men's moto. John Anderson, Lewis Johnson, three-time Olympian and former American record-holder Deena Kastor, Sage Steele, and Olympian Carrie Tollefson will round out the national talent.
The group will be joined by a talented array of reporters at the start, finish, along the course, and in the sky, including ABC7's Eyewitness News reporters Ryan Field, Sam Ryan, Anthony Johnson, Kemberly Richardson, Michelle Charlesworth, Lee Goldberg, Brittany Bell, and Josh Einiger.
The broadcast, produced in coordination with 45 Live and distributed by IMG, will air on ABC7/WABC-TV and ESPN2 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST. Pre-race coverage from Fort Wadsworth begins at 7:00 a.m. EST.
The race will also stream live on the ESPN App nationally from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST.
Pre-race and continuing coverage will also be streamed live nationally on ESPN3 (accessible on the ESPN App and ESPN.com) from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ESPN3 will present a view of the finish line from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.
A two-hour encore presentation of the race broadcast will air on ABC affiliates around the country from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.
The international broadcast will include three-time TCS New York City Marathon champion and four-time British Olympian Paula Radcliffe providing race analysis, alongside veteran track and field commentator Paul Swangard.
International broadcast partners secured by IMG for the race include: FloSports (Australia, Canada, United Kingdom), ESPN Brasil (Brazil), SMG Sports (China), Eurosport (Pan Europe, Pan Asia, India), L'Equipe (France), RAI (Italy), TV Asahi (Japan), Sky Mexico (Mexico), NOS (Netherlands), Sky (New Zealand), SuperSport (Sub-Saharan Africa), ESPN International (South America), and TVE and TV3 (Spain).