Kathrine Switzer, the first woman who ran a marathon

The American athlete Kathrine Switzer (Hamburg, 1947) decided in 1967, running the Boston Marathon, emblematic race long distance (26 miles, 42.2 kilometers) that could only play men. And he managed to finish it even though he tried to expel her from the race. As recalled’s own Kathrine Switzer in his weblog Marathon Woman, “there was no real rules in 1967 to indicate that the marathon was only for men. There was also no space to indicate gender in the registration form. But almost all sports were for men, women rarely involved. ” His achievement is a good example of how small gestures can disassemble false myths and change the direction of society.

Indeed, after registering under the pseudonym KW Switzer, Kathrine was the first woman to cross the finish line, with the number 261, and his feat became immortal when one of the race officials tried to get her out of the competition.

One April 19, 1967, the athlete ran the distance in 4 hours and 20 minutes and ended up being escorted by fellow race to cross the finish line. His mark was the beginning of a brilliant career. But above all, he crossed a goal of enormous importance in the history of the woman show that physical and athletic ability of women had only limit machismo and social stereotypes. “It was a bad time for the official classification, but a very good time for women’s rights,” says the athlete, who is still active, participating in charity races and giving lectures on feminism and equality.

In 1967, the longest event in the Olympics for women was the 800 meters in track and runs allowed women were 1 mile and a half (just over 3 kilometers). Switzer’s career came to Boston after thoroughly prepared with his coach, Arnie Briggs. Then it was a journalism student at the University of Syracuse (New York), was 20 and had from 12 practicing athletics.

He had no interest in going down in history, but in its first test run and do it in a symbolic distance for her. “My coach did not believe a woman could do a marathon, but promised to take me to Boston if he showed in practice he could. We train hard and one day we ran 31 miles (about 50 kilometers), and was surprised and proud. Fiel to his word, he helped me get into the race, “she recalls in her memoir Marathon Woman.

That morning he put on his kit and lips and eyes painted, as was usual in it. He started running two miles and when he had tried to eject. Journalists made him pictures and asked what he wanted to prove with that. Her boyfriend blamed for everything that was happening … But despite the confusion of the moment, Switzer took more strength than ever and decided to finish the race, encouraged by her coach. And that determination which has become one of the most important women in their disci- pline, which has the sixth best global brand. Among his victories he stands first in the New York Marathon, seven years later, in 1974. That same year, was second in Boston in the race for which he has passed into history.

In 2013, he continues to fight for the rights of women to have space in elite sport. “My biggest win in athletics has been winning the 1974 marathon New York. But my greatest victory in life is to have contributed significantly in getting the women’s marathon was officially accepted at the 1984 Olympics,” he says.

(Source: Marathon Woman, Kathrine Switzer magazine Runner’s World Magazine, April 2007.)