Every time a female runner enters a marathon, a small offering should be made to Kathrine Switzer.
No, she isn’t from around here, but since I’m a runner (and female – insert smiley face here) I thought I’d veer off a bit and bring you this story of an amazing and brave athlete. In 1967 Kathrine became the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. Her entry (as K. Switzer) created an uproar and worldwide notoriety when a race official was photographed trying to forcibly remove her from the competition.
Fortunately, her football player boyfriend sideswiped the official and Kathrine was able to keep running. Knowing she had so much to prove (the typical thinking then was that running long distances was harmful to women – their uteruses might drop out!) she was determined to finish the race, and said she would crawl on her hands and knees if necessary.
Kathrine did finish that day and went on to run 34 marathons; in 1974, she won the New York Marathon. Through her tenacity and belief that women too can run 26.2 miles, Kathrine scaled the male bastion of the Boston Marathon that barred women from its race and helped to open its doors to females, which it finally did in 1972. This April 16th will be the 116 edition of this classic marathon.
Despite the great “strides” that women like Kathrine Switzer made, today in 2012, they are still barriers that face women in sport and athletics. To learn more about them and how you can help change the status quo go to leadingwomeninsport.com, the website for LAWS: Leadership Advancement for Women in Sport, an initiative founded by Dr. Marge Holman of the University of Women’s Human Kinetics Dept.
To learn more about Kathrine Switzer’s amazing story and her important legacy go to kathrineswitzer.com.