They lived 8,000 miles apart, a 36-hour trip door to door. Literally the other side of the Earth is how Kathrine Switzer describes the distance between her and Roger Robinson.
They knew each other as statistics.
Kathrine was the runner whom Boston Marathon officials tried to wrestle off the course in 1967 because she was a woman. She won the New York Marathon in 1974 and placed second in Boston the following year. She strove to have a women’s marathon added to the Olympics.
Roger Robinson was the world’s leading Master’s runner throughout the 1980s. Running first for England, and later New Zealand, he earned his fame at the New York Marathon, winning the Master’s division, and setting records at the Boston and Vancouver marathons, the latter of which still stands.
The two studied literature in college and moonlighted as sports journalists and television commentators at worldwide running events while holding full-time jobs.
They never met, though, until April 1983, when Kathrine was in New Zealand arranging for an Avon International Running Circuit race, a series that she had created for the cosmetics company.
While on the visit, she was asked to be a guest speaker for the national championship, and she learned that she would be sharing the platform with Roger Robinson. Roger told her that he planned to speak about the history of women’s distance running. “No, you can’t,” she replied. “That’s my topic.”
He let her speak first and improvised his own presentation.
“I fell in love at first voice,” Kathrine says. “He was so great.” They talked for hours afterward…