Saturday, May 4, 2013

Women & the Boston Marathon

For 70 years women were not allowed to run in the Boston Marathon.

In 1967 one woman had a bigger impact on the Marathon than the two bombers had on April 15 of this year.

Kathrine Switzer, then a student at Syracuse University, entered the all-men's race without revealing her gender, and the Marathon's director, Jack Sempel, literally tried to push her off the street.

"He grabbed me and screamed at me 'Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!'" she remembers.  

Her boyfriend, however, running with her, was an ex-All-American football player and gave Sempel a cross-body block.  

From that moment on, Switzer was determined to finish the 26-mile race, which she did in 4 hrs., 20 min.

Her fellow runners cheered her on, but later people asked, "Are you a suffragette?  Are you a crusader?"

"I'm just trying to run," she would answer.  "I often say that I started as a girl, but I finished the Boston Marathon as a grown woman."  

Today's young women take for granted their right to run marathons, but once upon a time it was an all-men's event.

See the opening scenes of Makers: Women Who Make America, where Kathryn Switzer is highlighted.

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