Kathrine Switzer is a woman who has changed history for both women and running.
It was the 19th of April 1967 when Katherine registered her name for the Boston Marathon, something that no woman had done before. She wrote only her initials in the application form, not to mislead organisers, but because she always signed in that way. So, she ran with the number 261 jersey, now retired, but shockingly just a few miles into the race, Jock Semple, the co-director of the famous 26-mile race, suddenly appeared behind her and tried to shove her out of the competition.
Switzer’s boyfriend, Thomas Miller, threw a block that knocked Semple out of her way, allowing the 20-year-old runner from Syracuse University to finish the race in 4:20:02. This was at a time when women were thought to be too fragile for long-distance running, proving also to her previous coach, who told her to give up, that women could indeed cover that distance.
She said “I began the marathon as a girl, and I finished it as a woman.”
Three days ago, Switzer, now 70, ran the Boston Marathon for the ninth time, finishing the race in 4:44:31. This time, she was greeted with acclaim instead of consternation. A beautiful history of #progress and #equality