50 years ago, Women Were Not Allowed To Run Marathons

Kathrine Switzer

Did you know before 1967 women were not allowed to participate in marathons?

Is your next question then, how did Kathrine Switzer run the Boston Marathon?

Read on to find out how a 19 year old girl broke all these boundaries and how her world-changing sporting achievements marked women’s name in the history.

Learn how Kathrine Switzer went on to make history as the first woman to run the Boston Marathon at the time when women were not allowed to compete.

Why is She famous?

Kathrine Switzer is an American marathon runner (261), author, and television commentator. In 1967 Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon is an inspiration to those women who wish to break the barriers of gender inequality. Switzer ran her first marathon  alone as there was no women’s running team and she was just 19 years old.

About Kathrine Switzer

How did she even sign up to the Marathon?

She entered the Boston Marathon in 1967 fearlessly, which is the time when women were not allowed to enter the competition. 

The Boston Marathon had been an all-male event for 70 years. She filled the entry form as K. V. Switzer. She signed it with her initials. While the marathon was happening along with her there were her couch, her boyfriend, and other members who were taking part were so excited. 

How did she run? Didn't others notice?

While Kathrine was running her first marathon, she was nearly pulled off the Boston Marathon course by the race official Jock Semple stopped the bus while the race was going on, jumped off and ran after her, he just grabbed her, attempted to physically remove her from the race, and screaming at her “Get the hell out of the race and give me those numbers!”. She was terrified at that point and she decided to finish the race because nobody believes that she can do it. She wants to prove that she can do it otherwise everybody is going to believe that women can’t do it and they don’t deserve to be here. That race changed her life. Publishers published articles on her with pictures as “Lady With the Desire to Run Crashed Marathon”.

However, Tom Miller and other male runners provided a protective shield and Switzer continued running. She finished the race with a time of 4 hours and 20 minutes and in 1972, 5 years after Kathrine Switzer’s historic run, women were finally allowed to enter the Boston Marathon. Her participation in the Boston Marathon changed everything and she became a role model.

Boston Marathon 2017

The 70-year-old female running pioneer, Switzer returned to the Boston Marathon In 2017, to compete in the race again and she finished it at 4:44:31. Just 24 min more time compare to her 1st race.

The Boston Athletic Association announced it would not assign bib number 261 to any future runners, as an honor for Switzer, so officially 261 race number retired after the race in 2017. 

Started a non-profit organization

She is an inspiration for many people. Switzer established 261 Fearless (www.261fearless.org), which is a non-profit organization to empower women through running. 261 is her race number and it became an iconic and imperative symbol of equality. Switzer campaigned successfully to include the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games and became an activist for female runners.