In 1967, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston marathon as an official numbered entry. As she states on her website, ‘I wasn’t running Boston to prove anything; I was just a kid who wanted to run her first marathon.’. She entered under her initials, and at first everything seemed to be going fine. She felt welcomed amongst the other runners, many of whom asked her how to encourage their wives and girlfriends to start running.
However, despite the official guidelines not stating that women couldn’t run, early in the race, problems started arising. The race manager, Jock Semple, attacked Kathy, trying to tear off her race number, yelling “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!”. Although Kathy had only been running for herself up to this point, she was now determined to finish, knowing that ‘If I quit, Jock Semple and all those like him would win.’
Switzer made it to the finish line, along with the rest of her small team, in around four hours and twenty minutes. By that evening, her photograph was all over the newspapers, declaring her the first woman to run the Boston marathon as a numbered entry. She has gone on to run many more marathons since, and this year, on the 50th anniversary of her first Boston marathon, Switzer competed again at age 70.