Kathrine Switzer, 1947

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Woman Category: SportsWoman Tags: Athlete and Greater Boston Women

  • HerStory
    Kathrine Switzer, 1947

    Marathon runner, author, and television commentator; the first woman to officially run in the Boston Marathon.

    Kathrine Virginia “Kathy” Switzer was born in Amberg, Germany, where her father, who was a US Army major, was stationed. When she was 2 years old, the family returned to the US and settled in Fairfax County, Virginia.
     
    She began practicing sports as a teenager, playing basketball, field hockey, and running a mile every day. While attending Lynchburg College, VA, she practiced track and competed in numerous events that were open to women. After she transferred to Syracuse University, NY, she joined the men’s cross-country team and began long-distance running. Then she decided to run the Boston Marathon, even after her running coach told her that women are too fragile to run these distances.
     
    She signed up to the Boston Marathon under the name “K. V. Switzer.” This gender-neutral name conceals the fact that she is a woman, though that was a name she signed regularly. On April 19th, 1967, 20-year-old Switzer started to run the Boston Marathon. When it was discovered K. V. Switzer is a woman, the organizers treated her as an intruder, but this did not stop her from running. Four miles into the race, she was pushed by Jock Semple, a race official, who physically tried to remove her off the track. That moment was captured in a photograph and made headlines all over the world. Tom Miller, her boyfriend back then, who was running next to her, shoved him aside, while Switzer kept on running. After approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes, she reached the finish line.
     
    After the run, the Amateur Athletic Union banned women from all mixed running competitions, so Switzer, alongside other women runners, started a campaign to get women official status in marathons and long-distance races. It took five years of tireless efforts, and in 1972 women were officially allowed to run the Boston Marathon.
     
    Switzer proceeded to learn in college, earning a Master’s Degree in public communications, while continue running, participating in 40 marathons, and winning the New York City Marathon of 1974. She became a marathon commentator on TV and simultaneously worked to create and improve opportunities for female runners in the US and abroad. One of of her most significant achievements is including the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games in 1984. In 2015 she founded the 261 Fearless Foundation – a non-profit global organization that uses running as a method to unite and empower women.
     

    “Talent is everywhere, it only needs the opportunity”

    “Talent is everywhere, it only needs the opportunity”

     

    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • Her personal best time for running a marathon is 2:51:37.
    • A doctor told her once that her uterus would fall out if she runs a marathon.
    • After she finished the 2017 Boston Marathon – 50 years after her first run, the organizers retired her 261-bib number in her honor.
    • She published two books – “Running and Walking for Women over 40”, and a memoir named “Marathon Woman.”
    • She got married three times.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Awards:

    * Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame
    * Named Female Runner of the Decade by Runner's World Magazine (1967–1977)
    * Won an Emmy for commentating the 1984 Olympic women's marathon

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    Kathrine Switzer, 1947

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  • Kathrine Switzer, 1947

    Woman Tags: Athlete, Greater Boston Women
     

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    Kathrine Switzer | The 2020 MAKERS Conference

    Kathrine Switzer, Athlete, Author & Advocate, reflects on being the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon and how defining moments can change your life. #MAKERSConference

    Details: https://www.makers.com/
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  • 2011 Berlin Marathon. Behind are photos of her at the 1967 Boston Marathon. Credit - Wikipedia


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