Kathrine Switzer, one of running’s most iconic figures, is known not just for breaking barriers but also for creating positive global social change.
Kathrine Switzer became a hero of the women’s rights movement in 1967 after she officially completed the Boston Marathon, then all-male race. Having registered under the name KV Switzer, her gender went unnoticed by officials at the start line, but a few miles in she was attacked by an angry official who tried to pull her off the course – creating an enduring image of women’s rights history.
With the help of a bodyblock from her boyfriend, Switzer evaded the official and finished the race in 4 hrs 20 minutes. On Apr 19th 1967 she broke the gender barrier for race.
She later said, “I knew if I dropped out no one would believe women could run distances and deserved to be in the Boston Marathon.”
Women were officially allowed to enter the Boston Marathon 5 years later in 1972, and to compete in the Olympics at the distance in 1984.
In Apr 2017, aged 70, she ran the Boston Marathon again, finishing just under 25 minutes slower in 4:44:31.