“What was a dramatic incident 50 years ago became instead a defining moment for me and women runners.” Half a century on, Kathrine Switzer can look forward to the prospect of competing at the Boston Marathon minus the obstructing presence of an irate race director – an iconic image that captured the reaction of a woman running in a male-only event.
Switzer, now 70, has confirmed she will return to run Boston Marathon in April, 50 years after she decided to register for the race under the initials 'K.V. Switzer' and become the first ever woman to complete the event officially. (Switzer would return to Boston on seven more occasions and posted her PB, 2:51:37, in 1975).
Her presence and ability, along with Bobbi Gibb’s – who competed at Boston in an unsanctioned capacity from 1966-1968 – influenced not just the BAA, who eventually welcomed women as competitors in 1972, but impacted heavily on female participation in the sport across the world.
In April, Switzer will be representing, along with 121 others, 261 Fearless, a non-profit organisation that aims to empower women to take control of their lives through the freedom obtained by running.
On her participation at what will be the 121st Boston Marathon, Switzer said: “There is only one 50th anniversary in our lives and this is a race that changed all of us…the result is nothing less than a global social revolution.”
“I’m training hard, and I’m buoyed by the spirit of this wonderful team. This race is not going to be about finishing time; it’s about celebration, inclusion and gratitude. I’m running to say thanks to a race, a city and thousands of wonderful people who have done so much to give strength and self-esteem to women.”