Women in History: Kathrine “K” Switzer

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While her accomplishment was in sports, it was still a pretty significant accomplishment. It opened the door for women to be in races and run in all sorts of events everywhere. It was a significant breakthrough and one that deserves a celebration.

She

  • was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a number at age 20.
  • had an official try (unsuccessfully) to forcibly remove her from the Boston Marathon.
  • helped to get the Boston Marathon to allow women.
  • works to create opportunities for women in sports and to give women equal standing in sports.
  • helped get the women’s marathon recognized as an Olympic sport.
  • has run 35 marathons.
  • placed first in the New York City 1974 marathon.
  • had to run with men’s teams.
  • started the Avon Running Global Women’s Circuit.
  • is an author.
  • is a TV commenter.
  • is a wife.


Others said

  • “If any woman could do it, you could, but you would have to prove it to me. If you ran the distance in practice, I’d be the first to take you to Boston.” – Arnie Briggs
  • “Aw hell, kid, you can do it. You’re tough, you’ve trained, you’ll do great!” – Kathrine’s Dad
  • “Get the hell out of my race and give me that number!” – Jock Semple


She said

  • “It is important for me to finish the race.”
  • “Arnie, I’m not sure where you stand in this now. But no matter what, I have to finish this race. Even if you can’t, I have to–even on my hands and knees. If I don’t finish, people will say women can’t do it, and they will say I was just doing this for the publicity or something. So you need to do whatever you want to do, but I’m finishing.”
  • “Running in the marathon that day changed everything. From then on, I had a focus in life.”
  • “I thought other women weren’t interested in sports and I thought they didn’t get it. It wasn’t until after Jock tried to tackle me that I realized the reason other women weren’t there is that they hadn’t had the same opportunities that I’d had or the encouragement from their family, dad or coach.”
  • “Men are not better athletes than women. They are different athletes. Talent is everywhere; it’s just waiting for an opportunity.”


Awards

  • inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame
  • Runner of the Decade
  • Billie Jean King Award
  • Abebe Bikila Award
  • One of the Visionaries of the Century
  • Fred Lebow Award
  • inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame
  • Emmy Award
  • Honor Fellow
  • New York State Regents Medal of Excellence
  • Pioneer Award in Sports Management
  • Ambassador Award

Books (Note, I haven’t read these, I just found them)

She’s still alive and she has a blog if you’d like to read it.

You can find her on Linked In. Personally, I would love to connect with her and talk with her and if she ever finds this, I would love to connect with her on Linked In.

Sources

  • Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon (This page on her blog is no longer available as of 7/4/14, but if you want, you can find her whole website here.)
  • The Real Story of Kathrine Switzer’s 1967 Boston Marathon – Life is For Participating (This page on her blog is no longer available as of 7/4/14, but if you want, you can find her whole website here.)
  • Kathrine Switzer biography (This page on her blog is no longer available as of 7/4/14, but if you want, you can find her whole website here.)
  • Kathrine Switzer Runs the Boston Marathon (Link broken as of 6/8/15)
  • Lasell College: Legendary Marathoner Kathrine Switzer Tells Her Story at Lasell (Page moved as of 7/4/14)
  • Kathrine Switzer 2008 (Link broken as of 7/4/14)
  • Switzer speaks on gender equality in athletics – News – The Miscellany News – Vassar College (Link broken as of 6/8/15)

Other ground-breaking women can be found on my list here.

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