Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Katherine Switzer...the first woman to enter and run the Boston Marathon
However, 20-year old Katherine Switzer had some different ideas. Having trained with the men in her club, she believed she could run a Marathon. Having checked the entry conditions for the Boston Marathon, she could find no mention of anything preventing a woman from taking part so she registered under the gender-neutral "K. V. Switzer".
During the race however, Jock Semple, a race official attempted to remove her from the race, and is noted to have shouted, "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers." However, Switzer's boyfriend, who was running with her, shoved Semple aside and sent him flying. The photographs taken of the incident made world headlines. Her finishing time was 4:20 minutes.
For her trouble, she was banned from all races by the Amateur Athletic Union even though she didn't break any rules. In time though this was overturned and Switzer would go on to win the 1974 New York City Marathon, with a time of 3:07:29. Just eight years after the famous incident, Switzer returned to Boston again in 1975 to run a personal best time of 2:51:37.
In the BBC Word Service Witness programme last Saturday, there was a 9 minute audio clip about Katherine Switzer. You can hear it HERE