Katherine Switzer: Paving The Way For Women Since 1967, Competitor, by Allison Pattillo

The women’s running pioneer is launching a new clothing collection with Skirt Sports this summer.

Many a great idea is born from frustration. And so it was when Kathrine Switzer decided to run the 1967 Boston Marathon. She was running with her coach Arnie Briggs one night in the snow and grew weary of hearing him tell his Boston stories. It was one of those runs. Switzer, admittedly ambitious and willing to work hard, liked running long and decided it was time to write her own Boston Marathon story. She knew Roberta Bingay ran it unofficially in 1966, proving that, even if it wasn’t “acceptable,” it was possible. Little did Switzer know she would still be leading the race for women in running almost 50 years later.

Encouraged by her father, Switzer began running at the age of 12 to get in shape for the high school field hockey team. Her goal was seven laps around her yard. She instantly lost track of the laps and got lost in running, “I knew it was magic,” she recalled.

She worked her way up to a mile a day, then 3 miles a day before leaving home to play field hockey at Lynchburg College. In college, she took her first steps in competitive running, when she ran the mile for the Lynchburg (men’s) track team in 1966. That race turned into a media sensation, landing her on the pages of Sports Illustrated.

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