Top Women Marathon Runners
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

Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon - Click here.
How Nicholas and Collier Solved the Puzzle
If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free
Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the
Forensic Genealogy book.
If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
!-- Start Quantcast tag -->
Enter Contest
Bookmark and Share
Quiz #387 - February 17, 2013
1. What's going on in this picture?
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.
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Kathy Mooney                Phyllis Garratt
Judy Pfaff                Audrey Nicholson
Judy Kiss                Edward Vielmetti
Collier Smith                John Pero
Nelsen Spickard             Jackie McCarty
Tim Bailey                Winnifred Evans
Jessica Jolley                Carol Farrant
Tom Collins                John Thatcher
Elaine C. Hebert                Venita Wilson
Sally Garrison                Alison Stephens
Margaret Paxton                Dennis Brann
Grace Hertz                Gina Hudson
Shirley Yurkewich                Gus Marsh
    Lori Farrell             Nancy Nalle-MacKenzie   
Donna Jolley                Joyce Veness
Lina Trichilo                Janice Sellers
Arthur Hartwell                Diane Burkett
Talea Jurrens                Marcelle Comeau
Daniel Jolley                Nicholas Lamy
Marcelle Comeau                Joshua Kreitzer
Nicholas Lamy                Maureen DeHaan
Timothy Fitzpatrick
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.

Nicholas Lamy

I Googled "first female runner boston marathon" and the top return

Why did I choose that phrase?

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.

Collier Smith
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.
Nelsen Spickard
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.
Carol Farrant
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.
Venita Wilson
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
Dennis Brann
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
Lori Farrell
I recognized the photo and went straight to the Boston Marathon site and Wikipedia
page on the marathon.
Janice Sellers
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.
Carol Farrant
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.
Audrey Nicholson
I personally think most women are very special.
Dennis Brann
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.
John Pero
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.
Kathy Mooney
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

Arthur Hartwell

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.


Colleen Fitrzpatrick
Quizmaster General
How Katherine Switzer paved the way
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

"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

The most emotional moment was 20
minutes after Benoit's finish, when
Switzerland's Gabrielle
Andersen-Scheiss staggered into the
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
Mizuki Noguchi
Gold Medal 2004 Athens Olympics
Winner 2005 Berlin Marathon