On April 19, 1967, Kathrine Switzer, 20, a journalism major at Syracuse University, entered the Boston Marathon as “K.V. Switzer,” wearing a bulky sweatsuit. At the time, the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) did not admit women into marathons. Switzer became the first female to officially enter and run. The photo of a race official forcibly attempting to stop her and grabbing for her race numbers was the photo shot heard round the world. Life magazine listed the photo as one of the “100 Photographs That Changed The World.”
Switzer was determined to cross the finish line, despite blistered and bloodied feet. She had to wear men’s athletic shoes she had ordered from Europe. Quite a feat! Athletic shoes for females were not yet manufactured because there was not a large enough market.
The AAU did not formally accept females in long-distance running until the fall of 1971. Women officially started to compete in the Boston Marathon in 1972. That was the same year Congress passed Title IX, Ms. Magazine was launched and Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” topped the charts. Billie Jean King was named the first Sports Illustrated Sports Woman of the Year in 1972.