You are a woman. You want to run. You register for an event.
Someone tells you to get off the course because you’re a woman.
You are Kathrine Switzer.
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer registered for the Boston Marathon. It had been an all-male event before this. She entered under her initials “K.V. Switzer”, and got out of the physical requirement saying she had already been cleared. Now, you’re probably wondering
What’s the big deal? So she was the first woman to run a marathon?
The big deal was this:
As participants were running through the course, a truck pulled up with a man yelling “..slow down..stop..” Jock Semple, one of the race organizers jumped off the truck and began yelling at her.
“Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!”
He felt it was an all-male sport and she needed to leave, so he charged at her to get her off the course. A husky athlete as well as her then-boyfriend, Thomas Miller threw a body block to stop him from doing so. After Semple and the truck left, all was quiet until she broke the silence and said
“I’m going to finish this race on my hands and knees if I have to because nobody believes that I can do this.”
Kathrine Switzer finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
She became an advocate for women after this as she fought to make the marathon an Olympic event for women. It took 5 years (FIVE!) for women to be allowed to run the world’s oldest annual marathon. Trying to understand the concept of why it took any length of time for women to be able to run a very free sport leaves a permanent confused look on my face. They say it was because “..women’s bodies weren’t capable of handling such a sport..” That, my readers, is one of the biggest, baddest, boldest, dumbest reasons to date. I’m a woman and
I run because I can.
Check out PBS‘ Women Who Make America series in which Switzer talks about that very day:
Until the next post..
keep on running!