50 years ago a 20 year old named K. V. Switzer took part in the Boston Marathon. No one knew at that time that it was a woman named Kathrine Switzer who had disguised her gender with the generic name. It was an era where women were not allowed to run and she started a revolution since then!
50 years later on Monday, she ran the Boston Marathon yet again at the age of 70! And oh boy, she did it with full enthusiasm and such elegance! She completed the race in 4:44:31 hours.
Kathrine Switzer 50 years ago
When Kathrine ran her first Boston Marathon in 1967, she was treated like a weak gender and was literally pulled off the race! During the race, marathon official Jock Semple ran up to her yelling “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” When he grabbed Switzer and attempted to rip off her race number, other runners, including Switzer’s coach Arnie Briggs and her boyfriend Tom Miller, blocked Semple and she was able to complete the marathon. Dramatic photographs of the incident and the story of Switzer’s participation in the marathon made global headlines. Switzer’s record-setting run as the Boston Marathon’s first registered female runner came one year after the historic run of Bobbi Gibb, who disguised herself and snuck in to run the marathon in 1966.
Kathrine Switzer – The Revolution
After the marathon, Kathrine Switzer has not looked back. She became deeply engaged in efforts to increase girls’ and women’s access to sports. Finally she and other women runners convinced the Boston Athletic Association to drop their discriminatory policies and allow women to participate in 1972. With that revolution, today nearly half of Boston Marathon entrants are female. She did not stop at that! Kathrine Switzer also helped lead the drive for the inclusion of a women’s marathon in the Olympic Games. This was a victory which was achieved at long last with the first women’s marathon at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Kathrine’s Message to Young Girls
“My message to young girls is that you can do much more than you ever can imagine,” says Kathrine.
“The only way you can imagine it is to do it. To take the first step. And if you take the first step, you can then take three steps. And then you can take 10. And someday maybe you can run a marathon. And if you can run a marathon, you can do anything.”
Kathrine Switzer is the founder of 261 Fearless, a running club for women. She named the organization from the number she wore in 1967 which was retired after she crossed the finish line. She ran the Boston Marathon on Monday again with the same number 261.
Kathrine Switzer indeed is a woman to look upto! The women runners cannot thank her enough for the revolution she bought in! Another empowered woman who empowered so many along the way! Respect!