On a cold day in 1967, Katherine Switzer had no clue that she was about to become a worldwide name. She had no idea that one simple act was about to thrust her into the international spotlight and make her a hero for women everywhere simply because she wanted to do one thing: She wanted to run in the Boston Marathon.
For over 70 years, the Boston Marathon had been a boys club that no woman had either thought to try and join, or was given the opportunity to do so. With the support of her all-American football player boyfriend Tom Miller and her coach Arnie Briggs, Switzer filled out an application for the race using only her initials, K.V. Switzer, and set history in motion.
Switzer wasn’t the first woman to ever run the length of the marathon, but by keeping her full name secret she had successfully become the first woman to enter the race as an official participant and be given racing numbers to fully take part. The reaction from many of the other runners was that of excitement or surprise when they realized a woman was running the race with them, but that reaction quickly turned violent when event organizers got involved.
A flatbed truck carrying race directors and members of the press who were covering the marathon caught sight of Switzer and as reporters shouted questions such as “What are you trying to prove?”, “Are you a suffragette?”, “Are you a crusader?”
And then the unthinkable happened:
A race director by the name of Jock Semple jumped off of the flatbed truck and began chasing after Switzer, and when he caught up to her he grabbed her and began trying to tear her racing numbers off of her screaming “Get the hell out of my race!” A terrorized Swizter then watched as her football star boyfriend levelled Jock Semple with a cross body-block, allowing her to finish the race in 4h20mins and prove to the world that women were capable enough to be in the Boston Marathon and deserved to be there.
According to the MAKERS YouTube page, that one act of bravery by Swizter has see her life take on an even more inspirational form:
[box type=”shadow”]Her 38 subsequent marathons (she’s still running them) include a win in New York in 1974. She led the successful drive to get the women’s race into the Olympic Games, has won an Emmy for her TV commentary, and is the author of three books, including her memoir, Marathon Woman. Switzer’s ongoing campaign to help women around the globe empower themselves through the simple act of running made her a 2011 Inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.[/box]
And as the bio on Switzer says, yes, she is still running that same marathon even today.