EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally ran in The Eagle-Tribune on April 16, 2000, 20 years after Rosie Ruiz "won" the Boston Marathon. Ruiz, who married and changed her name to Rosie Vivas, spoke exclusively to The Eagle-Tribune a few weeks before the 2000 race. Since the story first ran, former race director Will Cloney has passed away. Ruiz is believed to be living in South Florida and has not run a race since her "victory.''
The voice is very pleasant and professional. It is also unmistakable.
"This is Rosie Vivas, may I help you?"
Then she realizes the caller who reached her at her office in south Florida knows who she really is.
"You've got the wrong person," and the receiver slams down.
No, it really is Rosie. Rosie Ruiz. Our Rosie Ruiz.
Twenty years ago this week, she came out of nowhere to win the Boston Marathon.
Minutes after she was crowned with the winner's laurel wreath, it was clear she really had come out of nowhere.
Men's winner Bill Rodgers asked, "What were your splits?" Ruiz answered, "What are splits?"
Within a week, her title was gone.
"I ran the race," she said in 1980.
"I ran the race," she says now, before cutting short another call to her office.
Rosie M. Vivas — she married in 1984, divorced in 1986 but kept her ex-husband's name — is still running these days. Running away from the fame, or infamy, she won as Rosie Ruiz.
By most accounts, she actually ran only about a mile of the 26.2-mile course back on April 21, 1980, jumping into the race somewhere between Kenmore Square and Mass. Ave. But no marathoner left a more indelible mark.
"Rosie Ruiz is the most famous runner of all-time," says four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers. "Really, to the general public and the media, everybody knows about Rosie Ruiz. I think it's kind of funny, to be honest."