Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kathrine Switzer - Marathon Woman

We think nothing of women running these days, but it hasn't always been this way. In fact, it's only been in fairly recent history that women have been "allowed" to enter races longer than a half mile, and you would never ever see a woman out jogging for exercise just 45 years ago. We have Kathrine Switzer to thank for bringing us out of the dark ages, for her courage in entering the 1967 all-male Boston Marathon. As women were forbidden to run the race, Switzer entered under the name "K. Switzer" of Syracuse. She ran the race with several men including her coach and her boyfriend. At one point, race director Jock Semple noticed her in "his" race, ran onto the road, and tried to pull her out of the race. The men around Switzer blocked him, kept him away and she went on to finish the race.                      
1967 Boston Marathon - Race officials trying to pull Kathrine Switzer out of the race

This race was just the beginning for Switzer.  She went on to organize running events that brought about worldwide social change for women, and helped to establish a women's marathon in the 1984 Olympics.  Her own running included a 1974 win at the New York City Marathon in a time of 3:07 and a lifetime personal best of 2:51.  I read her book, Marathon Woman, when it came out several years ago (have it here on my "recommended books" list).  Here is an interview with her a few years back:

You can get her book here from Amazon.com:

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