The 70-year-old competed in the 1967 marathon, and was the subject of anger and outrage from race organiser Jock Semple
KATHRINE SWITZER returned to the Boston Marathon fifty years after becoming the first official female entrant to compete.
The 70-year-old sparked outrage and anger when she raced in 1967, but on Monday afternoon, once again she donned bib number 261 to take part.
She was the subject of abuse from race organiser Jock Semple when she first competed, who yelled: “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers,” as he attempted to yank her bib away and force her to stop running in just the opening few miles.
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Women were not allowed to take part in the Boston Marathon until 1972, but five years prior, in an attempt to conceal her gender she registered as ‘K.V. Switzer.’
Writing for The New York Times, Switzer said: “The marathon was a man’s race in those days; women were considered too fragile to run it.
“But I had trained hard and was confident of my strength. Still, it took a body block from my boyfriend (Tom Miller) to knock the official off the course.”
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She completed the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes, but wan’t the quickest female runner on the day, with Roberta Gibb beating her time by an hour as she unofficially competed.
Gibb become the first woman to race in the Boston Marathon a year earlier, and concealed he gender by wearing a hoodie.
Switzer added: “In 1967, few would have believed that marathon running would someday attract millions of women, become a glamour event in the Olympics and on the streets of major cities, help transform views of women’s physical ability and help redefine their economic roles in traditional cultures.”
In addition to winning the 1974 New York Marathon, and competing in over 30 competitive races since, Switzer founded ‘261 Fearless,’ her bib number from Boston in 1967 where the organisation supports women ‘take on their personal challenges through running or walking.’
She told NESN before today’s race: “I’m so excited about Monday. It’s going to be great,” before adding she hoped to compete in the New York marathon again this year.
Her bib number – 261, will officially be retired from today onwards, and to mark their respects to her, she was the honorary starter for the women’s race.
Switzer completed the first half of the marathon in an impressive two hours and 18 minutes, on course for a finish of four hours and 36 minutes – just 16 minutes more than what she finished in 1967.