Syracuse University, simply loved running. She had trained for months, even completing a 30-miler, to be sure she could finish. She and her coach, Arnie Briggs, had checked to see whether there were any rules prohibiting women from entering. There weren't; in those days, the idea of women running the 26.2-mile distance was so foreign, the rulebook made no mention of them. So she entered the race using her initials, K.V. Switzer, as was her habit, and was issued No. 261.
"I thought K.V. Switzer was a very cool signature," she said. "Like J.D. Salinger."
Switzer, her boyfriend, Tom Miller, and Briggs were two miles into the marathon when officials tried to evict her from the course. Their tactics were terrifying. In a rage, race director Jock Semple came lunging at her. He got his hands on her shoulders and screamed "Give me those numbers and get the hell out of my race!" The wild look in his eyes still haunts Switzer. "Seeing that face scared the s--- out of me," she said.
Before Semple could rip off Switzer's numbers, Miller, a 235-pound athlete (he was a football player and hammer thrower), laid a cross-body block on Semple, sending him to the side of the road in a heap. The entire sequence was captured on film by the press corps bus, riding just ahead of Switzer's group.
Switzer kept running. Over the next 20 miles, she felt humiliated, then angry, then brushed it off. Semple was a product of his time, she thought. It was inconceivable to most men that women could run long distances without doing harm to themselves, their
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2. Who is the woman? Who is the man hanging on to her?
3. Who was the top woman finisher of this race in 2012?
Thanks to Jim Kiser for submitting the idea for this quiz.
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I like puzzles and being that I am pretty young, I do not know a lot of forensic genealogy tactics. However I would consider myself an analytical thinker and exceptional "Googler".
Because this man is clearly angry at this woman, I hypothesized that this is a first for woman to be a part of this event. Being that everyone in this picture is older, I thought this was a marathon race and not a college event. I then googled "famous foot races" which brought me to this website.
I started at the top and googled "first woman Chicago marathon". When that failed to produce anything related to this picture, I went on to "first woman Boston marathon". This picture came up and I found loads of information on the topic.
Your picture shows one woman and a bunch of men, obviously racing. I guessed that it was significant because she was the first runner or winner, so I entered "first female race runner"; into Firefox's search bar, and Google suggested "Boston Marathon", which I accepted as a search term instead of race.
Comments from Our Readers
So why did you choose the Boston Marathon for this week's photo. It is on April 15th. We're you working on taxes? Or are you planning to run this year. I used to run far too much. Then I got married and had a daughter. Suddenly no time for that. I never raced much as I could not stand the swarms of people.
Most terrifying run was in the hills of Tblisi when I was stalked by two large hounds for about five miles. End of story.
***** Were I to enter the race, I�m sure my top time would be five days, if I was lucky.
My 15 year old granddaughter runs track and plays on a basketball team in high school. She is a bright, lovely young woman. But, based on a conversation we had late last year, I wonder if she knows how lucky she is. I'm of Katherine Switzer's age group. As a teenager, our athletic opportunities existed pretty much only in physical education classes for one hour a day. An exceptional young woman like Katherine Switzer just went out and did it anyway. But the rest of us were not encouraged to do anything except, maybe take a home economics class.
***** An easy one this time. All I wrote was "runners, 261" and found out that Kathrine Switzer, a 19-yr-old student from Syracuse University, wanted to run in the Boston Marathon in 1967. She found nothing against women entering but, just to be on the safe side, used her initials when registering.
***** I look back at those times with a sort of despair because a lot of those women were simply afraid, that they believed all the old myths of arduous exercise would give you big legs, and hair on your chest and your uterus would fall out. I wanted to tell them how wonderful this is not only because it gets you healthy and strong but also so empowered.
***** I'm thinking she entered a marathon that was traditionally a male only competition and the man grabbing her is really trying to help her and defend her from the older man behind her-he looks like one hand is on her upper arm and the other stretched out behind her trying to block her from harm...,after searching online I believe I was right.
***** I recognized the photo and went straight to the Boston Marathon site and Wikipedia page on the marathon.
***** I only had a B+ average when I finished high school. But there was no way I was going to follow my dad’s suggestion to take a shorthand class. With shorthand I could become a secretary like his sister. It was a different time. Thank goodness times have changed.
***** I do remember this incident being all over the newspapers, though. I had to brush off cobwebs for this entry. I instantly knew it was the Boston Marathon, then I had to backtrack and figure out how I knew that.
***** I personally think most women are very special.
***** My mother’s aunt took over her husband’s accounting/cpa business in the late 50’s upon his death and in order to get her degree enrolled in an up til then all male Catholic college (she was Presbyterian as well) becoming their first female graduate. Another ancestor, in the 1800’s became her town’s first postmistress upon her husband’s death. Barriers are meant to be broken.
So what you are saying is that these women got their jobs over their husbands' dead bodies? - Q. Gen.
***** I agree, it did take a lot of guts for Katherine to take that big step. I was also glad to read that her coach and boyfriend encouraged her and stood by her on such a momentous journey into history.
Looked up some marathon facts 1897 Marathon won by John McDermott in 2:55:10 1967 Marathon won by Dave Mckenzie, New Zealand, in 2:15:45 2012 Marathon won by Wessley Korir, Kenia, in 2:12: Men's record 2:03:02
Woman's Record 2:20:43 by Margaret Okayo, Kenya in 2002
Wheel Chair record men's 1:18:25 women's 1:34:06
***** So the women who run the marathon today finish it in less time than the men who ran way back when the marathon was first revived in the 1890s.
1. The first woman to run the 1967 Boston Marathon.
2. Katherine Switzer and Jock Semple.
3. Sharon Cherop from Kenya.
Push comes to shove
Forty-five years ago, Switzer ran the race for the first time and tried to keep a low profile. When officials noticed a woman in the race, they launched an ugly attack -- which today is one of the most famous moments in the race's 115-year history -- to get her off the course.
Switzer, at the time a 19-year-old journalism major at
reproductive systems (a woman's uterus might fall out, the thinking went) or their fragile psyches.
In the final miles of her race, Switzer began mulling why there weren't more opportunities for women to run.
"While I was running, I had been kind of blaming women for not knowing how wonderful running and sports could be," she said. "And then I realized it wasn't their fault. They didn't have opportunities. I'd been really lucky. It was kind of this 'Eureka!' moment."
After she finished in 4 hours, 20 minutes, news of her feat -- and the confrontation with Semple -- spread worldwide. At a New York State Thruway rest area on the way back to Syracuse that night, Switzer spotted the first pictures of herself on the back page of a newspaper. Her life had changed.
In the coming years, Switzer graduated from Syracuse, married Miller (and later divorced him), earned a master's degree and returned to run in Boston when women were officially welcomed in 1972, the same year Title IX became law. Over the next decade, Switzer made good on the promise she forged to herself during the late miles of the 1967 Boston Marathon, to create running opportunities for women.
It's a body of work that today's top marathoners say made their careers possible.
"I met her when I ran Boston the first time in 2009," said Kara Goucher, a 2:24 marathoner who will represent the United States at the Olympics in London this summer. "It is fair to say that her courage to run the Boston Marathon paved the way for me to live the life that I do. Thanks to her bravery, I am living my dreams and running professionally."
The Olympic dream
The 1967 Boston skirmish helped put women runners on the map, but it was Switzer's years of legwork afterward that led the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to add a women's marathon to the Games' program.
After women were granted official status at the Boston Marathon in 1972, the wheels in Switzer's head began to turn.
"A lot of us began talking about, 'Well, maybe we should get the event in the Olympic Games,'" Switzer said. "Of course it seemed, again, like we were the lunatic fringe."
Switzer went to the Olympics in 1972 as a journalist. Seeing the power of sponsorship and money at the Games, she began to grasp the sort of backing the sport would need to advance.
Back in New York, working in public relations and promoting women's tennis and running, Switzer also continued training. Running twice a day and as many as 110 miles per week, Switzer won the 1974 New York City Marathon and ultimately ran a personal best of 2:51 at Boston in 1975. She believed the performance validated her as a serious athlete and advocate. It gave her clout.
A couple of years later, a top Avon executive who'd read about Switzer and her running invited her to look over a proposal for a women-only marathon in Atlanta. Switzer blew it out, rewriting it into a 40-page report, proposing a multicity (and eventually international) road racing series for women. The Avon International Running Circuit was born. Women came out by the thousands to compete. Switzer was involved in every detail, from the cut of the T-shirts and finishers' medals to the road closings and postrace news conferences.
The series was crucial to getting the marathon into the Games, because a sport has to be contested in 25 countries and on three continents before it can be considered. Beyond the races, Switzer was an indefatigable lobbyist -- meeting with officials from running's worldwide governing body, IOC members and organizers from the Los Angeles Olympic Committee. In 1981, with the success of the Avon circuit as proof of the sport's viability, the IOC voted to include a women's marathon in the 1984 Games.
"I have always been a Kathrine fan, because she was a serious runner who kept at it for
Read excerpts from Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports, by Kathrine Switzer.
While attending college, Katherine Switzer entered and completed the race in 1967, five years before women were officially allowed to compete in it. Her finishing time of approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes was nearly an hour behind the first female finisher, Bobbi Gibb (who ran unregistered). She registered under the gender-neutral "K. V. Switzer", which she insists was not done in an attempt to mislead the officials. She claims to have long used "K. V. Switzer" to sign the articles she wrote for her college paper. Race official Jock Semple attempted to remove her from the race, and according to Switzer said, "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers." However, Switzer's boy- friend Tom Miller, who was running with her, shoved Semple aside and sent him flying. The photographs taken of the incident made world headlines.
As a result of her run, the AAU barred women from all competition with male runners, on pain of losing the right to compete. Switzer, with other women runners, tried to convince the Boston Athletic Association to allow women to participate in the marathon. Finally, in 1972, women were welcome to run the Boston Marathon officially for the first time ever.
many years until running that 2:51 PR," said Amby Burfoot, who won the 1968 Boston Marathon and went on to edit Runner's World magazine. "And also, of course, for having the corporate smarts and organizational tools to make the Avon Running Circuit into more than just an Avon marketing tool.
"It was a necessary precursor to the acceptance of the women's marathon by the IOC. Then she continued promoting running through her TV work and writing, so she's made contributions to the sport in every imaginable arena."
Switzer was part of the broadcast team for that first Olympic race in Los Angeles in 1984. She watched from a small control room as American Joan Benoit took the lead at Mile 3 and won by more than a minute. After her years of work led to that moment, "it was hard to keep it together toward the end," Switzer said.
The most emotional moment was 20 minutes after Benoit's finish, when Switzerland's Gabrielle Andersen-Scheiss staggered into the Olympic
Stadium, suffering from heat exhaustion and struggling to finish. It took her six minutes to run the final lap of the track, and ABC's cameras followed her every step.
"I really almost lost it," Switzer said. "First of all, I thought it was sensationalist journalism, and I felt scared to death that they would see that and pull the event. They would say women can't handle the marathon."
Andersen-Scheiss recovered a few hours later and was hailed as a hero.
A runner's life
Switzer's internal clock is still geared around major marathons. These days, she lives in New Paltz, N.Y., from the Boston Marathon in April until the New York City Marathon in November. Then she and her husband, Roger Robinson, head to New Zealand for the winter. Switzer continues to give speeches, work for TV and write.
"Kathrine's tenacity proved that women would not lose their insides from running a marathon, but I equally admire how she continues to stay involved in the sport," said Deena Kastor, a bronze medalist at the 2004 Games in Athens and the American record-holder in the marathon (2:19). "She is a pioneer, a feisty competitor, and she adds insightful commentary to television coverage."
Switzer, now 65, still runs, too. Last fall, she ran the Berlin Marathon in 4:36.
"I was happy to finish," she said. "I wanted a 4:20, but who cares? After four hours,
nobody cares. But here's the irony of it. Last week, for some reason, I looked up Boston qualifiers and I came hollering out of my study. I was like, 'You won't believe it. I still qualify for Boston!'"
Switzer plans to run the race again in 2017, the 50th anniversary of the year Semple tried to push her out of the marathon. Every year since, Switzer has pushed back, and women distance runners will be forever grateful.
Joan Benoit Gold Medal 1984 Summer Olympics Los Angeles
Paula Radcliffe Current women's world record holder in the marathon 2:15:25 hours
Naoko Takahashi First woman to break the 2 hour 20 minute barrier while setting a world record.
Mizuki Noguchi Gold Medal 2004 Athens Olympics Winner 2005 Berlin Marathon