First Woman to Finish Boston Marathon Does It Again, 50 Years Later
They tried to shove her out, quite literally, 50 years ago. But she just kept on running.
On Monday she did it again, this time at age 70, crossing the Boston Marathon finish line half a century after becoming the first woman to officially complete the exhausting and esteemed competition.
Kathrine Switzer was all smiles, and just a little out of breath, after covering 26.2 miles in a finishing time of 4:44:31. Thousands cheered.
Her time at age 20: Four hours and 20 minutes.
She was a Syracuse University student when she entered the marathon in 1967 under the name K.V. Switzer to safeguard her gender.
Women, it was felt at the time, were just too fragile to run such a long distance.
In a series of black-and-white images that became historically famous, Switzer was seen running in sweats with the number 261 attached to her front and back, as marathon co-director Jock Semple grabbed her and tried to rip off her bib.
"Give me those numbers," he shouted.
Switzer’s boyfriend, Thomas Miller, body-checked Semple, and she ran on, all the way to the finish line.
On Monday, she again wore No. 261.
“Hey friends,” she posted to her Facebook page Monday. "Thanks for all the support along the way! I finished, like I did 50 years ago. We are here to change the [lives] of women. Just imagine what’s gonna happen in 50 years!”
She had updated her page at various points along the route.
About a mile in, she passed the spot where she was accosted by Semple all those years ago.
“This is about the place where Jock Semple attacked me and tried to pull off my bib,” she said mid-stride. “Suddenly, it all comes back to life. What a way to start the race and to see that!”
In 1972, with her help, Boston Marathon officials allowed women to enter the race. She has run 39 marathons, finishing second in 1975 with a time of 2:51:33. A year earlier, she won the women's division in the New York City Marathon.
She became an author and TV commentator and formed 261 Fearless, a nonprofit that raises money for charity by holding races across the country.
On Monday, as a marathon medal was hung around her neck and photographers and camera crews swarmed her, women were heard chanting, "Thank you, Kathrine! Thank you, Kathrine!"