KATHERINE SWITZER

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Only Men Were Allowed to Run in This Marathon for 70 Years, Then a Woman Decided to Join

Perhaps one of the most fulfilling and remarkable things that you can do as a woman is to become a pioneer in your chosen field—to pave the way in a male-dominated industry so that other women may have the freedom and encouragement to participate in the future.

Kathrine Switzer can easily include “pioneer” if she were to list down her life’s accomplishments. If you haven’t heard of this incredible lady, she is the first woman ever to join the Boston Marathon. A sporting event where only men are allowed to join? Seems almost unthinkable today, right? But back in 1967, the marathon was considered too strenuous for women who were considered fragile and lacking the stamina for the sport.

But Switzer did not let these stereotypes stop her from doing what she desired: to join and finish the Boston Marathon. With the help of her boyfriend, Switzer began training for the event and finally signed up officially. In her entry form, she used her initials “K.V.” instead of her first name to avoid alerting officials of her gender.

When the big day finally came, Switzer ran alongside her football player boyfriend and another man who coached her through the race. Many photographers and most of the other runners expressed excited surprise that a girl was running in the Boston Marathon after 70 years of being all-male. However, not everyone shared this positive reaction. One of the marathon’s directors ambushed Switzer’s team while the race was ongoing, confronted Switzer and demanded that she drop out of the race by giving up her number. This director even went so far as to chase Switzer and grab at her in an attempt to remove the number himself! The horrendous act was photographed by journalists, some of which unfortunately shared the director’s view. Several reporters began yelling at Switzer as well to express their displeasure.

Thankfully, Switzer’s boyfriend managed to push the director out of the way, allowing Switzer and her team to continue the race. It was after this commotion that Switzer realized how important it was for her to finish the race, not just for herself but also for women in general. It took her 4 hours and 20 minutes to reach the finish line, making her not only the first woman to join the Boston Marathon but also to complete it.

Switzer’s historic run made newspaper headlines across the country. Five years later, women were officially allowed to participate in the Boston Marathon, and it is not difficult to assume that Switzer’s revolutionary run helped make it possible.

What do you think of Switzer’s story? Do you know any similar stories of women who bravely followed their dreams in spite of society telling them they can’t? Share your thoughts below in the comments!

FurlessKATHERINE SWITZER