I ran across this story and image while doing a bit of research on hot tubs and athletic training. I have followed running most of my life and I remembered hearing about Kathrine Switzer from my father, who himself is an accomplished marathoner and long-time coach.
Given the attention Boston is now receiving due to acts of cowardice and hate, I just wanted to share this incredible image and uplifting story of courage, determination, and strength.
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, then a 20 year old college student, entered and completed the Boston Marathon, even though women were not officially allowed to enter the race. At the time it was assumed that women couldn’t handle the rigors of 26.2 miles, along with many other misconceptions.
Kathrine had actually officially entered at the request of her coach who said it was the correct way to go about it. She had used her initials and it wasn’t likely clear she was female as her entry was processed. She started the race without much attention but quickly, the media and officials noticed her. As she began the race, the attention of the media photographers and other runners grew. At 2 miles she was attacked by an angry race official, Jock Semple, who tried to tear her numbers off and force her to quit the race. Her male companions fought off the official (her boyfriend gave him something of a cross-body block) and she was allowed to run the rest of the way.
Kathrine was not necessarily out to prove anything at all, except that she could do it. As she puts it, “I was just a kid who wanted to run.” However, after the race official incident, she became determined not to quit. She went on to win the New York City Marathon and become an ambassador for women’s athletics, the marathon, and an Emmy-winning TV announcer.
Kathrine was in Boston, covering the race this year. She was not harmed although she was actually near the finish line until just before the explosions.
The marathon, especially Boston, has always been a grand display of insurmountable courage. It’s my hope and expectation that it will continue to be so, even if for different reasons now.