50 years ago, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to join the Boston Marathon. During that time, she knew that she was making history. However, the road towards the finish line was not as smooth as she thought it would be.
It was 1967 and women didn’t have the same rights they enjoy today. During that time, women were not allowed to join the race. In order to be accepted, she signed up for the Boston Marathon as K.V. Switzer. But during race day, she took her spot at the starting line wearing earrings and lipstick.
Running Against Race Officials
Switzer was already at the second-mile mark when race manager John Semple ran up and tried to get her off the course. Good thing that Switzer was running with her boyfriend and knocked Semple. She managed to fend off the race official and finish the race with a time of four hours and twenty minutes.
Runner Number 261
And to commemorate her historic run, she registered for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Already 70 years old, she will be wearing number 261, the same number she wore in 1967. And in honour of her achievement, the Boston Marathon will retire the number. It will not be used in future races.
She has already completed 39 marathons that included her first place finish at the 1974 New York Marathon, and the 1984 Olympics. Her last run in Boston was in 1976, two years after she successfully campaigned for the inclusion of women in the said marathon.
Switzer is an inspiration for all women. Her goal is to reach women in places where they are not allowed to leave the house alone, get an education, or drive a car. She wants to inspire them through running, and hope that she gives them strength in their fight for equality.